Authorities in China's southwestern Yunnan province have been accused of faking economic data by the country's National Bureau of Statistics, amid President Xi Jinping's drive to root out corruption from the Asian powerhouse.
A report by the NBS claims the local Luliang government in Yunnan put pressure on companies under its jurisdiction to inflate their industrial output data, reported China's official state news agency Xinhua.
NBS officials said 28 local companies reported 6.34bn yuan (£664m, €789m, $1bn) in industrial output value during 2012, but the true figure was only 2.82bn yuan.
The firms involved shifted blame up to the authorities. They said reported data would be returned if Luliang officials did not think it was high enough, leaving companies little choice but to artificially bloat the numbers.
Reporting bigger numbers, the businesses claimed, also led to favourable treatment, including better access to bank loans.
China Corruption Crackdown
China is making efforts to improve the integrity of its economic data, as well as clamp down on corruption by firms and individuals operating in the world's second largest economy. The country sunk five places to joint 80th in Transparency International's 2012 world corruption index.
There has been a spate of convictions of the ruling Communist Party's (CPC) officials caught engaging in corrupt activities, while President Xi Jinping has banned the construction of government buildings for five years to try and halt waste and corruption.
"Banning the building of new government buildings is important for building a clean government and also a requirement for boosting CPC-people ties and maintaining the image of the CPC and the government," said the Chinese government, according to Xinhua.
Jiang Jiemin, former head of the country's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, which oversees and regulates the state-owned industry, became the latest casualty of Xi Jinping's corruption crackdown after Chinese authorities accused him of "suspected serious disciplinary violations" and stripped him of his important role.