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Cops catch ‘house sister’

By Liu Sha Source:Global Times Published: 2013-2-6 1:18:01

Gong Aiai, the former banker known as the "house sister" because she was exposed as owning at least 45 houses and four household registration permits, or hukou, has been detained by police as a string of cases involving the abuse of the hukou system and associated corruption have sparked public outrage.

Local authorities in Shenmu county, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, had created a case file on Gong for forging official documents and government stamps, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

A police officer with the public security bureau in Yulin city confirmed with the Global Times Tuesday that Gong, the former deputy head of the Shenmu County Rural Commercial Bank and deputy to the local legislature in Yulin, was detained on Monday. Shenmu is under the administration of Yulin city.

Last week, police in Beijing seized 10 out of Gong's 41 properties in the capital, which were bought using her ill-gotten hukou.

So far, at least seven people, including four police officers, have been detained for helping forge hukou for Gong, who has also been revealed to own at least two fake IDs.

The scandal has triggered the anger of those who have been frustrated by high housing prices in China, especially in large cities like Beijing, and those migrant workers who cannot get a local hukou which would allow them access to various benefits such as welfare and education opportunities for their children.

Without a Beijing hukou, one has to have worked in the capital for five years to qualify to buy a house. But Gong, who managed to get a Beijing hukou, was able to purchase 41 properties, some of which were in the Sanlitun SOHO, one of the most expensive areas in Beijing.

Xu Xianglin, a professor of the School of Government with Peking University, said that to get more than one hukou, Gong would have had to get help from someone inside the public security department to breach regulations for her.

Xu told the Global Times that the abuse of the hukou system has become something corrupt officials use to hide their illegal gains.

With multiple identities, Gong's accumulated fortune through illegal activities - such as providing private loans to mine owners, as the Global Times reported earlier - could be covered up.

Gong's case is just one of the many similar scandals recently revealed in China.

In Guangdong Province, Zhao Haibin, a police official from Lufeng, became the latest figure revealed to have been using a fake ID card to do business.

Zhao's fake ID was registered in Zhuhai in the name of Zhao Yong. Police in Zhuhai have revoked the fake ID and hukou, Xinhua reported.

Zhao, a member of the Party committee of the public security bureau in Lufeng, acknowledged that he had had double IDs and been employed as a legal representative of a buildings materials company. But he denied he had 192 houses as reported by whistle-blowers, Xinhua reported.

There are fears the abuse of hukou and the ID system may hamper the government's fight against corruption.

"It could also provide chances for officials fleeing abroad to use a passport registered with a fake ID card. Officials, with their real identities, have to hold official passports that will leave behind records for police," Fang Qiongming, a police officer from the city of Jieyang's public security bureau, told the Global Times.

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