Chinese official stashes $25 million cash, 37kg gold at home

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A low-level official in China's northen Hebei province stashed 120 million yuan (S$25.3 million) in cash at his house, according to the local anti-graft watchdog.

Disciplinary authorities also found 37 kilograms of gold and 68 property ownership certificates in the home, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the Hebei Provincial Commission of Discipline Inspection.

The official was investigated by the anti-graft authorities on suspicion of bribery, embezzlement and misuse of public funds, the statement said, without giving any further details of the official's name or title.

A government source familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named, identified the official as Ma Chaoqun, general manager of the State-owned water company in the Beidaihe district of Qin huangdao.

Ma is a township-ranking official, the lowest level in China's official-ranking system in government departments and State-owned enterprises.

The local anti-graft authorities have investigated a number of cases in which low-level officials have accumulated wealth through corruption, according to the government statement.

Some village officials have taken bribes valued at several million yuan while dealing with land seizures, and some officials in the local vehicle management bureau have taken tens of millions of yuan, the statement said.

Many netizens have expressed their anger over the corruption cases through social networks and have called for harsher punishments for corrupt officials.

It is not the first time that low-level officials with big appetites have been investigated by the anti-graft authorities. Earlier this month, China's top procuratorate confirmed that more than 200 million yuan in cash was found in the home of Wei Pengyuan, deputy director of the National Energy Administration's coal department.

In July, an inspection team dispatched by the top anti-graft watchdog announced that many village officials in Beijing had accumulated wealth through illegal means.

In October last year, Ma Linxiang, an official in Beijing's Chaoyang district, was exposed after allegedly spending 1.6 million yuan on banquets for his son's wedding. He was removed from his post.