Last week we wrote an article about how Chinese anti-corruption police found 200 million yuan ($32 million USD) worth of cash in the home of a government official. If you put all that physical money on a scale, it would weigh 2.3 tons. The person who owned the home was Wei Pengyuan. As the former head of the National Energy Administration's coal department, Mr. Pengyuan was in charge of approving coal mine projects all over the world. Considering the importance of coal to China's economy, it was an exceptionally high-powered position. Unfortunately, for Mr. Pengyuan, China's legal system has been cracking down very hard on things like theft, embezzlement and bribery. In terms of potential punishments, life in prison and even the death penalty are not out of the question. The good news for Mr. Pengyuan is that he might have some company pretty soon…
Today China announced that agents from the government anti-graft division raided the home of a man named Ma Chaoqun. Mr. Chaoqun is the former head of a state-controlled company called Beidaihe Water Supply Corporation. This is a position that comes with an annual salary of roughly $50,000. That salary doesn't quite match up to what agents found in the home. Here's a highlight of what agents discovered hidden in this civil servant's humble abode:
1) 120 million yuan in currency = $19.6 million USD.
2) 82 pounds of gold = $1.574 million
3) Ownership documents connected to 68 homes and apartment units near the area of the raid.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is on the hunt to fight corruption. In the first 10 months of 2014 alone, China has arrested, prosecuted and sentenced over 13,000 officials who were guilty of some form of corruption or bribery. President Xi has been targeting what he calls "flies" (lower-ranking government officials) as well as "tigers" (higher-ranking, senior officials) within the ruling political party. Because of these prosecutions, Chinese political officials are committing suicide at alarmingly high rate. Since 2013, at least 62 public officials have died from "unnatural" circumstances. Of those, 32 have been confirmed as suicides. And those are just the officially confirmed deaths.
Unlike in the US where a corrupt white-collar criminal gets probation, or maybe spends a year at a country-club prison, China literally executes its worst offenders. Just a few weeks ago, on October 17, a Chinese rail official was found guilty of taking $7.7 million worth of bribes from companies looking to secure construction contracts, over an 11-year period. Not only was the rail official sentenced to death, all of his immediate family's property was forfeited to the state.