Official's illicit cash stash shown on TV

Wei Pengyuan in court during his corruption trial, and some of the cash found stashed in his Beijing apartment, as shown on state television.
Wei Pengyuan in court during his corruption trial, and some of the cash found stashed in his Beijing apartment, as shown on state television.PHOTOS: WEIBO
Wei Pengyuan in court during his corruption trial, and some of the cash found stashed in his Beijing apartment, as shown on state television.
Wei Pengyuan in court during his corruption trial, and some of the cash found stashed in his Beijing apartment, as shown on state television.PHOTOS: WEIBO

Bank staff spent 14 hours tallying $43m haul, burning out counting machine in process

BEIJING • Days after a former senior energy official was given a suspended death sentence in China, state media followed up with rare footage of huge stashes of cash that he had hidden under a bed.

Broadcaster CCTV said investigators found cardboard boxes full of cash during their raid two years ago on the Beijing apartment owned by Wei Pengyuan.

Wei was deputy director of the coal department at the National Energy Administration until he was put under investigation in 2014, with officials saying at the time that the cash found - the equivalent of S$43 million - was the largest amount ever seized in a graft case. How Wei had kept his cash was not disclosed at that time, but footage aired by CCTV this week showed cash stuffed in cardboard boxes, travelling bags and luggage cases.

The notes were denominated in yuan, US dollars, euros, British pounds and Hong Kong dollars with a total value of 210 million yuan, reported the South China Morning Post.

The CCTV report triggered outrage on Twitter-like Weibo. One netizen commented: "While others are trying to save up money for a home, this man buys an apartment to hide his ill-gotten cash!"

Chinese media reported that it took bank staff 14 hours to count the money. One of the five cash-counting machines, which can process 1,000 bills per minute, burnt out in the process.

Wei was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve last Monday for accepting bribes of 211.7 million yuan and possessing a large property from an unidentified source, reported the Xinhua news agency.

The suspended death sentence in practice means that he will spend life in jail and not be eligible for parole or early release.

Another corrupt official was given a life sentence for accepting bribes yesterday.

According to the Intermediate People's Court in Dongguan city, Lin Cunde accepted bribes of more than 24 million yuan.

Lin is the former deputy head of the organisation department of the ruling Communist Party's Guangdong provincial committee.

The court found that Lin had taken advantage of his position to seek gains for others in job promotions and transfers, project contracts, school enrolments and employment.

China's state media has mounted a massive propaganda blitz against graft ahead of a key meeting of the Communist Party, which starts on Monday.

Rules set to be unveiled at the annual party plenum will intensify what China calls "intra-party supervision" to ensure its members are clean in the absence of an independent anti-corruption body.

According to Reuters, the Communist Party has turned its fight to its most junior officials as the number of high-profile "tigers" caught in the crackdown on corruption falls.

"There are lots of little tigers left to capture. There is still resistance" to the campaign, a source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

From late 2012 to August this year, 91,913 people were given administrative punishments for graft, 80 per cent of whom were the lowest-level officials, according to party statistics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Official's illicit cash stash shown on TV'. Print Edition | Subscribe