Chinese tax bureau admits to keeping personal pleasure resorts
Mudanjiang city tax bureau built exclusive mountain retreats with public funds and kept a fleet of expensive cars
Taxmen in Heilongjiang province were discovered to be keeping at least two luxury mountain resorts and a farm, built with taxpayers’ funds, that supplied a private cache of fresh meat and produce to officials.
The resorts were reportedly built as a retreat for retired officials of Mudanjiang city’s tax bureau. One resort, located on a mountain more than 10 kilometres northwest from downtown, was opulently furnished and built with expensive wood. It featured several villas.
The premises also featured an animal farm along with a large greenhouse for vegetables. A manager of the resort told Xinhua news agency that the property had two functions: to be a place where tax officials can rest and enjoy leisure, and to supply “green” and “safe” vegetables and meat exclusively to the bureau.
Staff at the farm, which was publicly funded, were not allowed to sell the produce elsewhere.
Another mountain resort, more than 100 kilometres from the city and fronting a lake, was even more expensive to build, and was meant for senior officials.
The two-floor property was equipped with lifts, a small cinema, an entertainment room for karaoke, as well an automatic mahjong table in the centre of the lobby.
After an investigation revealed the resorts’ existence, the tax bureau’s chief, Liu Baichun, admitted to Xinhua that they owned and ran the properties.
“They were built for retired officials as a gathering place,” he was quoted as saying.
“[But] nobody has ever lived there after the construction [was] finished,” he claimed. “The bureau once sent staff there to clear the grounds, pulling out weeds and picking away rocks.”
One resort manager said construction was completed in 2011.
The investigation also found that the taxmen had several SUVs and sedans that cost much more than the bureau’s budget limit and their salaries.
It was unclear as yet what action would be taken against the officials.
Liu said they were aware of the central government’s anti-corruption drive and the bureau would “not enlarge the scale of the animal farm”.
He also added that the expensive cars were hidden in a garage after use to comply with Beijing’s requirement to curb displays of wealth.