Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - Page 6 News List

China probe reveals army officer’s gold, liquor stash

AFP, BEIJING

A top Chinese military officer has been exposed as owning dozens of homes, gold statues and crates of luxury liquor, reports said yesterday, in a rare revelation of corruption in the country’s armed forces.

The revelations about Lieutenant General Gu Junshan (谷俊山), a former deputy logistics chief for the People’s Liberation Army believed to be under investigation, came as China’s leaders ramp up a much-publicized crackdown on official corruption.

“There is grave corruption in the military, especially in the logistics sector, but revelations on the military’s graft fight is always kept off the radar for the sake of the military’s image,” said the Global Times newspaper, citing an “anti-graft expert” who did not want to be named.

Gu owned dozens of apartments in central Beijing, and his mansion in Puyang in Henan Province housed several gold art pieces, the magazine Caixin reported on Wednesday after a two-year investigation. The home was modeled on the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace in Beijing, covered 1 hectare and was dubbed the “General’s Mansion” by locals, it said.

Officials seized “a gold boat, a gold wash basin and a gold statue of Mao Zedong” (毛澤東) along with “crates of expensive liquor” on the premises, it added.

Gu, who joined the military in 1971 after finishing junior-high school, began handling military business operations in Puyang in 1985 and rose over the next decade to oversee logistics in the area.

His career trajectory saw him become deputy chief of the PLA general logistics department in 2009, and he “profited from the projects and land deals” in which he was involved, Caixin said.

Gu’s name disappeared from an official list in his logistics department in early 2012 and eventually the entire defense ministry Web site, and he left his post that year, it said.

A corruption probe has not been officially acknowledged, and was only obliquely referred to when a National Defense University professor, Senior Colonel Gong Fangbin (龔方濱), referred to corruption by Gu and his predecessor in an interview in August last year.

However, widespread coverage of this week’s revelations in China’s strictly controlled media indicated that authorities were willing to have news of Gu’s alleged misdeeds publicized.

His brother — whose home was next to Gu’s in Puyang, with the two sharing a long basement “filled with expensive liquor” — was arrested in August last year for bribery. The account follows extensive Chinese media reports about government officials who have come under investigation, and repeated pledges by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to fight corruption high and low.

China’s leadership has issued a raft of bans over the past year ranging from fancy banquets to expensive gifts, in an effort to deter endemic graft — which causes widespread public anger — and impose frugality.

This week, the military was required to purchase only local-brand vehicles as a way to save money, Xinhua news agency reported.

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