Chinese woman with houses worth USD 159 million faces probe

Jan 24 2013, 21:32 IST
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SummaryDubbed by bloggers as "House Sister", Gong Ai'ai, a former bank official was found to have 20 houses valued at one billion Yuan or USD 159 million.

Chinese government has ordered an investigation into the case of a woman bank official who acquired 20 houses valued at USD 159 million by flouting rules, after a blogger "exposed" her fake identities.

Dubbed by bloggers as "House Sister", Gong Ai'ai, a former bank official was found to have 20 houses valued at one billion Yuan or USD 159 million.

She was found to have illegally amassed 20 homes using multiple identities and will be fully investigated, China's Ministry of Public Security said today, according to a report by state-run Xinhua news agency.

The ministry said it has set up a special campaign to identify fake and duplicated identity records.

Three Police officers found responsible have been punished.

Police officers will be sacked if they are found responsible for illegal hukou registration and issuing identities, the statement said.

The ministry also encouraged public reporting of suspected violations, including online reports, and it promised careful handling of every tip-off.

The ministry has set up a special team to supervise the investigation into how Gong Ai'ai, who allegedly has at least two identities and "hukou," (local registration) had been allowed to possess so many houses.

A Hukou is a Chinese household registration record.

In China, one individual only has one legitimate identity and hukou record in the place he or she was born.

China's property market controls individuals buying multiple homes, but "ghost" identities can help householders evade restrictions.

Gong's identities have raised public concern of possible corruption, such as unfair distribution of government-subsidised affordable housing and officials' evasion of personal property supervision.

Gong's wealth was highlighted by a microblogger online.

It soon sparked a new round of public anger over administrative power abuses and oversight.

She first registered as a resident in the town of Shenmu in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

She later registered three fake identities respectively in two counties in the neighbouring Shanxi Province and Beijing between 2004 and 2008, Xinhua reported.

Gong was earlier working for a Bank and later resigned.

The scandal came after another case of identity duplicates in central China's Henan Province.

Zhai Zhenfeng, a local housing administrative official was arrested this month after he and his family members were found to have dual hukou records and owning 31 houses.

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