China busts local official who bought 13 homes with bribe money

BEIJING: A retired Chinese official who bought 13 houses using bribe money is one of the most discussed topics on the country’s internet after the top graft fighter made his case public.

He Fali, a former forestry official in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, purchased the properties using the names of family members after he stepped down in 2017, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in an article on Wednesday (Feb 28).

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2022 for taking bribes worth some 40 million yuan (US$5.6 million), the watchdog said.

The scandal was among the top trending items on social media, garnering hundreds of millions of views on Weibo as of Thursday morning. Many people posted sarcastic comments, with one writing: "I think he can afford 130 houses. Still too risk-averse.”

The episode sheds light on the millions of local officials caught up in President Xi Jinping’s signature campaign against corruption. While some details of high-profile cases, such as the one involving former security czar Zhou Yongkang, are known, less is available about the millions of others caught over the past decade-plus.

The ruling Communist Party routinely makes its efforts to clean up government known to the public through documentaries and news articles, in an apparent bid to show it is leading effectively. The wrongdoers it has exposed this way have included soccer players, executives at state-owned companies and top military brass.

It appears Xi intends to stick with the campaign for the foreseeable future. In January, he vowed to deepen his signature graft fight in sectors including finance, energy and infrastructure.

He, now 70, became the head of Shaanxi’s environmental bureau in 2003. The anti-graft agency said that private firms went to him to buy their way into government contracts or out of pollution violations, and it referred to him as a "slave of money.”

"Seeing businessmen living in villas, driving luxury cars and spending huge sums of money, it affected me unconsciously,” he was quoted as saying in a confession.

"My integrity was destroyed.” - Bloomberg

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China , official , bribery , houses , He Fali


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