Time runs out for ‘Brother Watch’ Yang Dacai

Official who flaunted his wealth on his wrist pleads guilty to bribery

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 12:46pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 August, 2013, 3:56am

Shaanxi's former work safety chief, whose taste in expensive timepieces earned him the nickname "Brother Watch" online - has admitted to bribery and acquiring millions of yuan in unexplained wealth.

Yang Dacai pleaded guilty yesterday at the Xian Intermediate People's Court to bribery and amassing unexplained wealth, local media reported.

Prosecutors told the court that an investigation lasting nearly a year uncovered more than 11 million yuan (HK$13.8 million) in assets belonging to Yang's family, reported, the official news website of Shaanxi.

Such a fortune was far beyond the possible income of the 56-year-old public servant, who chaired the provincial administration of work safety from 2011.

Yang said he had only accepted bribes totalling 250,000 yuan from a local company, whose representative appeared in court as witness.

Prosecutors said they could identify the sources of about six million yuan of the family fortune, but not the remaining five million.

Yang said only that the latter comprised "festive gifts" from subordinates and old schoolmates.

"But I don't know their purpose [for giving me such gifts]," Yang told prosecutors yesterday.

Other family assets included about 1.9 million yuan in "household income", 1.45 million yuan in revenue from his wife's restaurant, three million yuan from two relatives that was entrusted to Yang's wife for management, as well as her investment gains.


The court said it would announce the verdict soon.

Yang's downfall started almost by chance after a photo of him appeared online following a horrific accident last August after a fuel tanker slammed into a bus near Yanan , killing 36.

Yang, a senior official in charge of the investigation, was caught on camera standing by the burned bus, smiling happily with bystanders . He was roundly criticised for what many regarded as blatant insensitivity at the scene of tragedy.

But it was his taste in watches that caught the public's eye. Photos from government archives showed Yang wearing up to 11 different luxury watches in public.