Top Pudong official fired, faces probe over deals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2007, 12:00am

A top official of Shanghai's premier development zone has been detained for alleged graft, as the city continues to reel from a pension fund scandal that has brought down dozens of corrupt officials and business executives.

Former Pudong district vice-director Kang Huijun is accused of taking advantage of his position to speculate in property, reaping more than 16 million yuan from the deals, Caijing magazine said. The eastern district of Pudong is the location of Shanghai's financial district.

Caijing reported that Kang, 50, had been put under shuanggui - a form of detention that requires suspects to make themselves available to investigators at a specific time and place - a week ago.

Kang's fall was confirmed yesterday when Xinhua quoted a statement by the Standing Committee of Shanghai People's Congress that he has lost his qualification as a representative. The Xinhua report also said that Kang had been sacked for allegedly accepting bribes and was currently under investigation by Shanghai Discipline and Inspection Commission.

According to Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao, Kang was abruptly dismissed from his job on Monday by the standing committee of the district people's congress.

Caijing said that according to the initial investigation, Kang had bought 24 luxury apartment units at fixed low prices in his own name and that of his wife, with one unit on the bank of the Huangpu River valued at up to 40,000 yuan per square metre. He then sold eight of the properties.

The magazine did not directly link Kang's case to the pension fund scandal. At least 26 people have been implicated in the pension case and more than a dozen have been tried.

Shanghai has been the focus of a central government-led corruption crackdown, as well as an investigation into malpractice in the property market following the scandal. Before his downfall, Kang was dubbed the 'new landlord of Pudong' because he had not only been Pudong's deputy director since 2004, but also the party secretary of the district's Jinqiao Trade and Manufacturing Zone - an area with abundant land and an advantageous position.

From 1998 to 2004, Kang was the chairman of the Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone Development Company, the district's property development arm.

In May, the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection issued regulations stepping up the campaign against officials who abused their positions to generate personal income. The government said officials across the country had to report any illicit benefits within 30 days; otherwise, they would be penalised more severely.

Only 14 Shanghai officials turned themselves in within the designated period, according to the magazine.

One judicial official told Caijing that several officials were believed to have used their positions to buy property at rock-bottom prices and they believed they could avoid punishment because the practice was so widespread.