A large state-owned company in Guangzhou paid 26.3 million yuan (HK$24.7 million) to buy luxury apartments for 23 of its senior executives, a local newspaper reported yesterday.
According to the Southern Metropolis News, the Guangzhou Light Industry Export Group justified the purchases on the grounds that the new homes were 'awards' for the executives' contributions to the company.
Tan Kangpai, director of Guangzhou Light Industry's General Office, confirmed the purchases yesterday.
'We gave careful consideration to the purchases and believed that they were justified,' he said. But Mr Tan added that company executives were in a meeting to review the decision.
'We won't have an official reply until after the meeting is finished later today or tomorrow.'
Asked if the meeting had been called in response to the revelations in the Southern Metropolis News, Mr Tan replied: 'You could say that. Yes.'
A group of disgruntled employees sent a letter to the newspaper complaining of the purchases, which they alleged violated regulations that are supposed to govern the purchase and allocation of residential apartments by state companies.
According to these regulations, there are limits on the size and price of apartments that state companies may buy for employees. Purchases above these limits are supposed to be funded by the employees themselves.
One senior company official told the Southern Metropolis News that the regulations did not apply because the units were awards for the executives' contribution to the company.
Company chairman Lu Yegan argued that the purchases had been approved by the Government, but could not produce any supporting documentation.
None of the executives who benefited from the purchases has been formally accused of any wrongdoing. But Guangzhou government officials said they would look into the allegations.
The most expensive purchase was a 150-square-metre property that cost 2.5 million yuan.
Mr Lu reportedly received a river-view apartment that cost more than 8,900 yuan per square metre. General manager Guo Jianhua received a 10,000 yuan per square metre property on Ersha Island, a high-priced enclave in southeast Guangzhou populated by exclusive, gated communities.
Only one executive - a vice-general manager - declined the company's offer to trade in his existing accommodation in return for a luxury apartment, the newspaper reported.
Shi Huashan, chairman of the company's labour union, was quoted as saying that the money had been taken from a company housing fund.