Hunan tycoon discloses attempt to buy seat on provincial congress

Tycoon says he was offered a provincial congress seat in exchange for bribes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 5:05am

A billionaire real estate tycoon from Hunan province has come forward to reveal that he paid 320,000 yuan (HK$394,000) in bribes to more than 300 provincial people's congress deputies in a failed attempt to win a seat on the body.

The province's top anti-graft committee had acknowledged that "parts" of the allegations were true, and an investigation was underway, the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

Huang Yubiao, 67, told the South China Morning Post by phone yesterday that officials with the local congress instructed him to bribe the delegates, which he was led to believe would improve his chances of winning a seat on the congress. He said he paid at least 1,000 yuan to more than 300 delegates, but later found out that many recipients did not vote for him.

"The local government threatened me not to make the matter public, and said I could be charged because I bribed public officials," he said. "But I only did that because they told me to in the first place. And they told me the bribe was a 'work expense'."

After losing the election, Huang said, he demanded that recipients of his money refer him via a bank transfer, so he could keep the transactions as evidence. He also said he secretly videotaped those who returned the money to him in person.

The local disciplinary committee and People's Congress representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Lu Qun , deputy director of the Bureau of Corruption Prevention in Hunan, confirmed the investigation on his microblog account and said the results would be made public.

Huang said no one from the local disciplinary watchdog had contacted him since he reported the matter earlier this month.

The tycoon also claimed that some candidates paid 2,000 yuan to each people's congress delegate to win a seat in the election.

Most mainland provinces and cities completed their local people's congress sessions in recent weeks. However, the delegates comprise what is widely considered a ceremonial parliament, as hand-picked delegates are expected to agree with decisions made by the Communist Party.

Huang's bribery allegations have generated much online criticism of the closed-door system used to select congress deputies.

"One has to spend millions of yuan to be elected as a village head, but now this person wants to spend only hundreds of thousands [of yuan] to become a provincial-level congress deputy," lawyer Yuan Yulai joked on his microblog. "How ridiculous is that?"