Nov 14, 2014 03:33 PM

Graft Busters Find another Cash Pile, but Family Denies Corruption

(Beijing) – The relatives of the head of a state-owned company who prosecutors say hid a large amount of ill-gotten cash and gold at his home – the second such case in recent months – say the wealth belongs to the man's parents and was obtained legally.

Ma Chaoqun, was the general manager of a water supply company in Qinhuangdao, in the northern province of Hebei. The water company is in Beidaihe District, which is home to a summer resort for central government leaders.

Xinhua reported on November 12 that the provincial government has netted 238 corrupt officials this year, including one "suspected of taking bribes, embezzling and misappropriating public funds." Investigators found "more than 100 million yuan worth of cash, 37 kilograms of gold and documents for ownership of 68 properties" at the official's residences, the official news agency said.

The report did not name the person. However, Caixin has viewed the minutes of a November 7 provincial government meeting about corruption that show the official was Ma.

Ma's mother, Zhang Guiying, and sister-in-law, Meng Qiuhong, denied he is corrupt. They said at a press conference on November 13 that Ma did not own any of the assets.

"All of this money and property was seized from the home of Ma's parents and accumulated in a legitimate way by Ma Chaoqun's late father, Ma Bingzhong," Zhang said.

She said Ma Bingzhong died more than a year ago.

Zhang and Meng also said Ma's younger brother and sister were taken away by investigators and had many of their assets seized. The authorities have not told them where Ma is, they said.

Police arrested Ma in February and prosecutors raided his parents' apartments, Zhang and Meng said. Zhang showed reporters a document signed by prosecutors in Beidaihe District that said investigators found and seized cash piles of more than 90 million yuan and US$ 428,452 at the apartments. Her jewelry was also taken away, but not recorded as seized assets, Zhang said.

This is the second time in recent months that investigators have found a large sum of money believed to be the result of corruption. Wei Pengyuan, former vice director of the coal department at the National Energy Administration, had more than 200 million yuan worth of Chinese and foreign currencies at his home in Beijing, the country's top prosecutor's office said on October 31.

Zhang said her husband was a doctor practicing Chinese medicine who had a knack for investing and this was how the family grew wealthy. He started buying real estate in the 1960s and owned many properties, including six small apartments in downtown Beijing.

Zhang said her husband also invested in a mining company in 1983 and sold his shares in it for about 60 million yuan.

"Many of the receipts and materials documenting our ownership of the assets were burned along with my husband's remains after he died, and the rest was taken away by investigators," she said.

(Rewritten by Wang Yuqian)

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