Revealed: Chinese state TV airs footage of US$31 million worth of cash hidden in corrupt official’s flat
Stash was stored by Wei Pengyuan in an apartment empty of furniture apart from a single bed, according to report
Chinese state television has broadcast footage of the huge stash of cash, the equivalent of US$31 million, that a corrupt official hid in an empty apartment in Beijing.
The money was found in a flat owned by Wei Pengyuan, a former deputy director in the coal department at the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s economic planning agency.
He was given a suspended death sentence on Monday for taking bribes from more than 200 companies, state television reported.
The money is the largest amount prosecutors have retrieved in cash from a corrupt official in a single operation since the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, state media reported.
Wei’s apartment was empty of furniture apart from a single bed.
Investigators found cardboard boxes full of cash underneath it two years ago, apparently untouched since the notes were taken out of the bank.
Other boxes, travelling bags and luggage cases were also found full of cash in the apartment.
The notes were denominated in yuan, US dollars, euros, British pounds and Hong Kong dollars with a total value of 210 million yuan (HK$242 million), the report said.
It took 14 hours for bank staff using five cash counting machines to record the haul, including 134.8 million in yuan.
One of the machines broke down due to the excessive workload, the report said.
Internet users estimated at the time the discovery was first disclosed two years ago that the money would have weighed about 2.3 tonnes.
Wei abused his power to accept huge bribes during coal project reviews and bidding and also helped others sell equipment illegally between 2000 and 2014, state media have previously reported.
The official was thought by colleagues to be living modestly as they thought he commuted to work on a folding bicycle each day.
Investigators found he actually drove an Audi to work, which he parked nearby and then cycled the short distance to the office on the bike, which he had stored in the car boot, according to the report.