China / Society

Probe launched over officials property suspicions

(Xinhua) Updated: 2013-01-11 21:31

GUANGZHOU - Disciplinary authorities in South China's Guangdong province have begun investigating accusations that two local officials own huge property portfolios that suggest corruption.

An investigation team was set up on Jan 4 by the disciplinary committee in Xiaolan township, Zhongshan city, to look into the case surrounding Huang Xinze and Huo Chengtang, according to Feng Jiehong, top disciplinary official of the township.

Huang is the chief of the Communist Party of China committee of Lianfeng community, while Huo is the community's top financial official.

The duo were accused by an Internet user "13800abc" on the popular Sina Weibo micro-blogging service of owning eight pieces of land and properties valued at more than 100 million yuan ($15.87 million).

The post has been widely circulated on the Internet, with netizens suspecting the two officials of illegally profiting from land management during their tenure.

In an interview with Xinhua, Huang confessed that he and Huo jointly own the properties.

But he said all the land and buildings were purchased with money they earned through their business over the years.

Huang and Huo, both 58, said they own more than 10 plants involved in businesses including brick-making and printing.

They have submitted a report containing details of their properties to the township's disciplinary committee.

Feng said no corruption or infringement of law by the two officials have been found so far.

Yue Jinglun, a public affairs professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, said community-level officials have substantial power especially in handling collectively owned land in rural areas.

Yue suggested that the government should therefore limit officials' commercial activities, and a mechanism should be adopted for officials to make pre-appointment declarations of how much property they own in order to prevent corruption.

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