A former deputy bank chief accused of forging identities to buy dozens of properties was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday by a court in Shaanxi province.
Gong Aiai, a former deputy chief of Shenmu Rural Commercial Bank and nicknamed "Sister House" by mainland internet users, was sentenced at Jingbian County Court in Yulin for forging and trading official documents, the Yulin Intermediate People's Court said in its Sina Weibo microblog.
The court said Gong knowingly provided false identity information to obtain two identities in Shaanxi and one in Beijing, actions that disrupted social order and exerted a negative social impact.
The case against Gong attracted nationwide attention as police evidence showed that Gong, 49, owned more than 40 properties, including 26 shops, seven offices, seven flats and one villa in Beijing with a total contract price of 395 million yuan (HK$498 million) under four identities.
Under the law, each mainland resident is allowed only one ID. Gong's extra IDs have been revoked .
Gong denied the charges in her trial last Tuesday, arguing that she did not know it was illegal to have more than one ID. It is not known whether Gong will appeal.
Gong argued that the money came from her salaries as bank deputy chief and a coal business she had been involved in, while investigators told Xinhua that they found no illegal behaviour after looking into the source of funding to buy the properties.
However, many people were unconvinced. In an editorial yesterday, the Beijing Youth Daily said: "As many normal people feel so powerless over the rising property prices, the public has the right to ask for a deep explanation on how Gong miraculously amassed such a huge real estate empire, even if it was legal."
A microblogger said: "She is so lucky, as she probably will be the most powerful property owner in Beijing after three years in jail."
Four police officers received lesser sentences for helping Gong forge the identities, and one police officer was exempted from criminal punishment.