Official's property stockpile raises questions

Updated: 2016-10-28 08:50

(China Daily)

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AN OFFICIAL IN A DISTRICT PROSECUTORS' OFFICE in Nanchang, capital of East China's Jiangxi province, is being investigated by the provincial authorities as he was reportedly linked to at least 83 properties under his and his relatives' names. Beijing Times commented on Wednesday:

It may come as a shock to many that a "normal" judicial worker has some 80 apartments, probably more. One of his relatives said he has bought more than 100 apartments with "business gains".

In particular, given the rising property prices in Nanchang - the average price of a new house in the city reached 9,823 yuan ($1,450) per square meter in September, an increase of about 2.55 percent compared to the previous month - further investigation is called for to find out how he managed to purchase so many properties and whether the money used to buy them was legally acquired.

Of course, speculation is also uncalled for. It is not right to say that all rich officials are power abusers as their excess money may very likely have been earned legally. This is not to deny that those officials who have failed to justify the funds used to acquire their property portfolios did prove to be guilty of money for power exchanges and bribery.

In the Nanchang official's case, his real estate ownership is questionable, but he has the right to answer the questions it has raised. On the one hand, an anonymous report said he had borrowed hundreds of millions of yuan under the name of "chief prosecutor", and used the money to buy property. On the other hand, his profile says he was a businessman before he became a public servant.

The Nanchang prosecutors' office should not have turned a blind eye to its employee's property buying, because it may serve as evidence of behind-the-scenes dealings, even serious corruption. It had every reason to urge him to explain how he had come by the money to buy them, as well as demand disclosure of his financial affairs during his public tenure.

(China Daily 10/28/2016 page8)