Beijing Zoo boss claims he made 8 million yuan fortune moonlighting as cab driver

Apart from unexplained wealth, ex-official also accused of pocketing 14 million yuan in bribes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 2:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 6:01pm

A former deputy chief of the Beijing Zoo, when asked to explain the source of 8 million yuan (HK$10 million) in valuables and cash, told a court he had been moonlighting as a cab driver for decades.

Xiao Shaoxiang was charged with corruption, taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin” in a Beijing court on Wednesday.

Six million yuan in cash, paintings and gold bullion from unknown sources were found in Xiao’s apartment – a cache worth a total 8 million yuan, according to the court.

This is just part of the largesse that prosecutors are questioning.

Apart from that, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court said in the indictment that Xiao accepted more than 14 million yuan worth of bribes.

Xiao denied all the charges and defended himself by saying he had moonlighted as a cab driver after work since 1975, The Beijing News reported. He may have driven a “black taxi”, a private car for hire at a pre-arranged price.

Xiao also told the court that all the assets came from “legitimate income”. He claimed his wealth could be traced to a combination of sources, from his salary to loans from relatives.

”All the money [came from] my payroll deposits, investment income and a part of it was borrowed from relatives,” Xiao said in court.

But he failed to provide evidence for his defence. “[It has been] so many years. The IOUs were all lost,” Xiao said.

Prosecutors said it was a crime to possess wealth of unknown origin exceeding 300,000 yuan.

While working as deputy director of the Beijing Zoo, Xiao also served as director of the Beijing Taoranting Park and was in charge of the zoo’s reconstruction project between 2006 and 2008.

Prosecutors said Xiao took more than 10 million yuan in project funds and placed it in a company under his name. They said he also pocketed 100,000 yuan in bribes from the construction companies.

Xiao said that in his defence, the projects were completed up to quality standards, despite him skimming the budget.

Xiao was detained by the Beijing police last March.