Prop­erty dis­counts: ‘I was ashamed to ask’

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - Lyu Xi­wen, 61, former Bei­jing deputy Party chief — LIANG SHUANG

Ed­i­tor’s note: Cor­rup­tion Fight Is Al­ways Un­der­way, a doc­u­men­tary pro­duced by the Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion and CCTV, con­tin­ues to broad­cast the sto­ries of former se­nior of­fi­cials ac­cused of cor­rup­tion dur­ing the coun­try’s anti-graft drive. The se­ries, which be­gan last Mon­day, con­sists of eight episodes over nine days (Satur­day was ex­cluded) at 8 pm on CCTV-1. The in­ter­views were con­ducted while the former of­fi­cials were de­tained, but be­fore any court ac­tion.

Lyu was in­ves­ti­gated in Novem­ber last year for sus­pected vi­o­la­tions of the Party’s dis­ci­plinary rules. Hav­ing been de­tained in Jan­uary, she is now fac­ing bribery charges. The first high­rank­ing of­fi­cial in Bei­jing in­ves­ti­gated since the 18th Party Congress in 2012, Lyu was ac­cused of abus­ing her power for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers and ac­cept­ing bribes.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that she bought five houses at “in­ter­nal prices” — 20 mil­lion yuan ($3 mil­lion) be­low mar­ket value for three of the five prop­er­ties un­der her name or that of rel­a­tives — from an en­ter­prise to which she had given fa­vor­able treat­ment. Lyu said in the doc­u­men­tary that she pre­ferred not to knowthe ex­act amount of the dis­count at the time of pur­chase.

Wang Han, awatch­dog of­fi­cial quoted in the doc­u­men­tary, said: “She felt like the en­ter­prise grew un­der her cul­ti­va­tion, so it was nor­mal to pro­vide her a house, and she took it for granted. It’s your job and duty to help the en­ter­prise, but if the ben­e­fit falls to you per­son­ally, you’ve blurred the bound­ary be­tween pub­lic and per­sonal ben­e­fit.”

The doc­u­men­tary also de­tailed the small cliques that were built around Lyu’s hob­bies, in­clud­ing ten­nis and wine tast­ing. Such cliques are against the Party’s dis­ci­plinary reg­u­la­tions, along with liv­ing a lux­u­ri­ous lifestyle.

“I was em­bar­rassed and ashamed to ask about ex­actly how much dis­count they gave me on the houses. I never asked about that. I didn’t dare to ask, re­ally. I felt like I was kind of afraid of fac­ing it.”

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