Real estate chief admits taking cash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 November, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 November, 2006, 12:00am

The former chairman of a Guangzhou government-owned real estate group has admitted in court that he had received 230,000 yuan from subordinates.

Zhou Mengchang , 62, was charged with accepting bribes totalling US$10,000 and 150,000 yuan between 2001 and last year, while he was chairman of Guangzhou Pearl River Industrial Group, the Information Times reported.

Zhou admitted receiving the money but rejected the charges of bribery.

'I did receive the money but personally I do not consider it as bribery. These are gifts from longtime friends and I never abused my position to help them make money,' he told the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court.

Zhou said friends gave him the money to pay his son's school fees or overseas business expenses.

'Once when I was on my business trip abroad via Macau, one of my subordinates, Mr Xu, gave me 5,000 yuan when we were eating. But I used 2,000 yuan to pay the bill and bought some luxury gifts for Mr Xu after that,' Zhou said. 'This is friendship, not bribery.'

Zhou retired in February last year and was arrested in January. He has returned 60,000 yuan, US$10,000 and a car to prosecutors. The court said no date had yet been set for the delivery of its verdict.

The Pearl River Industrial Group is wholly owned by the Guangzhou government.

It owns properties in prime areas such the World Trade Centre and has built some of Guangzhou's landmark buildings including the well-known Garden and White Swan hotels.