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China Arrests 800 in Crackdown on Underground Banking

FILE - Pedestrian pass a partially torn advertisement leaflet of a private money lender displayed at an underground walkway in Beijing, China, Feb. 20, 2012.

China's policy ministry says more than 800 people have been arrested in a crackdown on unlicensed banking operations as authorities try to stem outflows of money from the country.

The ministry said more than 380 underground banks that handled transactions totaling more than 900 billion yuan ($130 billion) were broken up in the crackdown launched last year.

Communist leaders allow informal finance to support entrepreneurs but try to stop activity they say threatens the state-run banking system, supports crime or helps people violate foreign exchange controls or other regulations.

Expectations the currency would decline in value prompted companies and small investors to move money out of China starting in late 2015. That prompted Beijing to tighten foreign exchange controls.