CORRUPTION
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Bo Xilai

Luxury French villa of jailed Chinese politician Bo Xilai 'up for sale at HK$66 million'

Luxury home featured in trial of ex-Chongqing party boss goes on market

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 December, 2014, 11:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2014, 3:11am

For sale: French villa with views of the Mediterranean, five bedrooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and featured in the high-profile trial of jailed former Politburo member Bo Xilai. Asking price: €6.95 million (about HK$66 million).

The luxurious Cannes home that was at the centre of the country's biggest trial in decades - and which a mainland court has promised to confiscate - has gone on the market, the Global Times reported yesterday.

The 400 square metre villa sits on a hillside in one of Cannes' most exclusive resort areas and comes with two garages and a 4,000 square metre garden, according to the sales document provided by Fine & Country, the real estate company in charge of the sale.

The home is in a prime spot, where the average price of land is close to €6,000 per square metre, the newspaper reported, quoting a local real estate agent.

GALLERY: to see pictures of the luxury French villa and its gardens, click here

The villa is managed by Résidences Fontaine Saint Georges, the legal representative of which was Jiang Feng Dolby, a former Chinese state television anchorwoman, the report said. But the report did not say who put the villa up for sale.

The Shandong Higher People's Court, which heard Bo's corruption trial last year, said Jiang was the nominal owner of the villa bought by Xu Ming, a businessman with close ties to Bo, on behalf of Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, in 2001.

The villa returned to Xu's ownership in 2011 and was later passed to Jiang. But Bo denied knowledge of the villa.

The mansion was once managed by British businessman Neil Heywood, who had business links to Bo's family but was murdered by Gu in 2011.

Bo, the former Chongqing party chief and once a rising political star, was expelled from the party in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison last year after being convicted on charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power.

An official at the French Ministry of Justice told the Global Times that for China to confiscate the villa, the evidence of its ownership must be clear. This would require time for an investigation and close cooperation between the two countries.

Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Clean Government Centre at Peking University, said the first step in recovery of overseas assets was providing a concrete domestic court decision and the paperwork to support it, as well as the criminal trial documents. Then agencies could go ahead under international agreements to confiscate, freeze and auction the assets.

Zhuang said the Chinese authorities would have to alert the French government that the asset was obtained through corruption, proceeding in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

But Zhuang said many other countries were not willing to work with China because they opposed the mainland's use of capital punishment.

He suggested that China work on tougher financial - rather than criminal - penalties for economic crimes.

Other countries would then be more likely to cooperate.

"So the next step is to increase financial penalties imposed on corrupt officials," Zhuang said.