Railway official 'owns US$1m California villa'
The former deputy chief engineer at the Ministry of Railways, Zhang Shuguang, who has been under investigation since February for alleged severe breaches of discipline, owns a luxury villa worth perhaps US$1 million in Walnut, California, the latest issue of Caixin Century magazine reports.
The 2,793 square metre (30,000 sq ft), five-bedroom villa in an upmarket residential area cost Zhang and his wife, Wang Xing, an estimated US$860,000 in November 2002.
The report said that Zhang transferred the villa to his wife soon after Ding Shumiao, a businesswoman from Shanxi province who supplied equipment to the railways, was arrested in Beijing in January.
Zhang, 55, was believed to have been the right-hand man to Liu Zhijun, the former railways minister who was sacked and removed from the Communist Party in February for 'severe violations of discipline'. Liu is accused of taking as much as 1 billion yuan in bribes.
The villa, not far from Los Angeles, seemed well cared for, with a tidy lawn and a Christmas decoration on the front door. However, the doorbell rang unanswered many times this month and the phone line was not connected, the magazine said.
One of the neighbours said she had only seen the male owner once and the female owner three or four times. Neither had participated in community activities.
Zhang was a pioneer of Chinese high-speed rail technology and one of the main architects of the rapid development of high-speed railways on the mainland.
He is believed to be under investigation in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, the Qianjiang Evening News, based in Hangzhou, reported yesterday. It said his case might involve more than US$2 billion, but that figure has not been confirmed officially.
Zhang's wife and daughter moved to the US many years ago. Wang, a mysterious, influential figure in the supply of railway lavatory equipment, was an agent for foreign manufacturers from the late 1990s.
Since Liu's downfall, other railway officials have been placed under investigation for corruption, including Su Shunhu, deputy director of the Ministry of Railways' transportation bureau.
State auditors reported in March that 187 million yuan had been stolen from the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway project alone.
The amount allegedly stolen from the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway project alone, according to state auditors in March