‘Sister House’ Gong Aiai stands trial in Shaanxi for forgery

Prosecutors tell court ex-Shaanxi bank official illegally acquired four extra residence permits to allow her to purchase dozens of properties

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 5:30am

A deputy bank chief who gained nationwide notoriety after accusations she had purchased dozens of properties using different identities stood trial for forgery yesterday in Yulin city, Shaanxi province.

Gong Aiai , who was derisively dubbed "Sister House" by mainland internet users, denied the charge of "forging official documents and stamps" during proceedings at the Jingbian County People's Court.

Police evidence showed that Gong, the former deputy chief of Shenmu Rural Commercial Bank, owned more than 40 properties in Beijing for a total contract price of 395 million yuan (HK$498 million), including 26 shops and seven flats.

The properties had a total area of 10,543 square metres, almost 1.5 times the size of a football pitch. Gong also allegedly owned at least two flats in Shaanxi's Shenmu county.

Prosecutors said that Gong, who is registered as a permanent resident of Shenmu county, purchased two hukou urban residence permits - one for herself and one for her daughter - for 300,000 yuan (HK$379,000) in 2005 when she bought a flat in Beijing, and managed to obtain another two ID cards under the names of Gong Xianxia and Gong Aiai in 2007 and 2009.

Each mainlander is only allowed to have one hukou with a unique ID number.

Gong denied forging any identities as the documents she obtained were from public security authorities and all were authentic, a news portal under the Shaanxi provincial government, reported.

Gong's trial ended yesterday, with a verdict expected in the coming days.

Gong, then a Yulin People's Congress deputy, came under the public spotlight in January after an internet post claimed she owned more than 20 properties in Beijing with two ID numbers in Shenmu.

State broadcaster CCTV later reported that Gong had two more IDs, one in Shenmu and another in Beijing.

Police in Beijing and Shenmu quickly revoked Gong's extra hukou and IDs, and Beijing police said 10 of Gong's properties in Beijing were sealed off.

The case drew heated discussion on mainland media and social networks, as questions were raised over the money Gong, a deputy bank chief, used to buy the properties.

Gong's lawyers said in court that the money came from her salaries as bank deputy chief and a coal business she has been involved in, Xinhua reported.

However, Gong's case highlights the vulnerability of the mainland's household registration system. The mainland has been trying to combat corruption in the real estate sector.

"Owning multiple IDs and hukou is not a rare case and somehow quite prevalent in some areas on the mainland," Gong's lawyers said in an open letter after the trial.