Hangzhou official under investigation over ownership of 20 homes

Deputy director in Hangzhou bureau under investigation over ownership of 20 properties

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 3:59am

Another official head has rolled after it was reported that he owned multiple properties he is unlikely to have been able to afford, given his income.

Zhang Xin, deputy chief of Hangzhou's Housing Management Bureau, was under investigation by the party's anti-graft watchdog in Zhejiang's provincial capital for "taking advantage of his position and making personal gains", Xinhua reported yesterday.

The report confirms a rumour Zhang had been suspended from duty for months over alleged bribery when he was head of the property development department at Hangzhou's Housing and Urban-Rural Development Commission.

Online postings alleged Zhang had more than 20 properties under his name worth hundreds of millions of yuan, mostly offered as gifts by property developers.

Zhang's case followed a string of downfalls of officials after they were found to have multiple properties.

The most famous case yet is Cai Bin, the former political commissar of the urban management bureau in Guangzhou's Panyu district. He was nicknamed "Uncle Apartment", by online users after allegations that he owned over 20 properties valued at tens of millions of yuan. After Cai, "Uncle Apartment" has become a catchphrase to ridicule corrupt officials who owned multiple properties.

The new leadership has made the drive against official corruption one of its key domestic priorities. The campaign has prompted speculation officials are dumping properties on to the second-hand market to avoid being snared.

Zhang Dawei, research director in Beijing of Centaline China, said such a flood in supply would bring down prices. But prices were actually climbing as supply was low.

Zhang said the increase in sales reported by the media was a normal fluctuation in October - traditionally the best month for property sales. The recent increase in second-hand property sales in Beijing was not even the biggest increase this year, he said.

Meanwhile, Yang Hongwei, a former governor of Yunnan's Chuxiong prefecture, stood trial in Kunming for alleged bribery and abuse of power. Yang, dubbed the "drug governor" for his heavy use of the drug kaku, a mixture of opium and herbs, was the subject of a party inquiry in April last year and charged six months later.

Yang is accused of taking bribes of 9.79 million yuan (HK$12.1 million), as well as US$47,800 and luxury items worth 180,000 yuan while deputy governor or deputy party secretary of Chuxiong prefecture and Honghe preferecture, according to website of the Procuratorate Daily.

Yang is also accused of changing a 66-million-yuan interest-free loan to fund construction of a dinosaur fossil museum between 2006 and 2010 to a government grant, resulting in the loss of 66 million yuan in public funds.

No verdict was handed down yesterday.