Sunday, 23 October 2016

Too Much Cash to Stash

Imagine hiding US$31 million worth of cash in your home... where to put it?
Here's some jaw-dropping news -- a corrupt Chinese official was handed a suspended death sentence earlier this week after he was convicted of taking bribes from more than 200 companies worth US$31 million worth of cash.

The money was found in a sparsely furnished apartment in Beijing owned by Wei Pengyuan, a former deputy director in the coal department of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's economic planning agency.

Wei Pengyuan received bribes while working at the NDRC
The 210 million yuan is the largest amount prosecutors have retrieved in cash from a corrupt official in a single operation since 1949, according to state media.

CCTV broadcast a news story showing how Wei was thought to be a modest official who cycled to work. But then it turned out he owned a black Audi (like every other Chinese official) and he would park it near the office and keep the folding bicycle in the trunk of the car.

The authorities raided his apartment, and only when they lifted the mattress of the bed did they find boxes and boxes, and suitcases full of 100 yuan notes bundled in bricks. There were also denominations in US dollars Hong Kong dollars, British pounds and Euros.

Apparently the cash had been sitting there for two years untouched after they were taken out of the bank.

He put the cash in suitcases, bags and boxes under his bed
The report added it took 14 hours for staff to count all the money, and four of the 16 counting machines broke down. News stories always like to add that these counting machines malfunctioned, or perhaps it was because they were made in China?

Wei managed to get all these bribes from conducting coal project reviews and bidding, and also helped others sell equipment illegally between 2000 and 2014, state media reported. He definitely didn't waste time trying to amass as much as he could.

Unfortunately the report doesn't say exactly how Wei was caught in the end, but for an NDRC official to cycle to work seems strange unless he really did live nearby.

If Wei's stash had all been in 100 yuan notes, it would have been over 2 million bills! That is so much cash taken out of circulation... wonder if the hoarding of so much cash by corrupt officials has contributed to China's economic slowdown...

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