Jan 28, 2011 08:20 PM

Palace of a Thousand Bribes


Rising to become Emperor Qianlong's most trusted consort during the late Qing Dynasty, the legend of He Shen continues to live in the minds of many Chinese as a parable of rank official corruption. By the court's own archives of the time, He Shen was documented as having amassed a combined 107.2 million tael in 1799 with his relatives, when his assets were finally confiscated by the central government. The list is recorded in China's First Historical Archives Center, Volume 195.

Beyond the trunks filled with gold, He also held large stakes in pawnshops, private banks and antique shops – in an investment pattern similar to modern day private equity barons.

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