The Chinese government has been making a great show of cracking down on official corruption, and in the process, finding some truly mind-boggling stashes of bribery money. Today, the Financial Times reports this incredible tidbit:
When investigators searched the Beijing home of Xu Caihou, one of China’s highest-ranking army generals, they found so much cash and precious gems they needed a week to count it all and 12 trucks to haul it away.
The cash was neatly stacked in boxes, each with the name of the soldier who had paid the bribe in exchange for promotion up the chain of command. Many of the boxes, each containing millions of renminbi, had never been opened, said people familiar with the case.
In total, the cash weighed more than a ton, which according to the FT suggests it was worth at least $16 million. What’s more, this is apparently not the largest cash hoard investigators have come across.
In May, investigators detained Wei Pengyuan, the deputy head of the National Energy Administration’s coal department. It took 16 machines to count the more than Rmb200m he had stashed in his home, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. Four of the machines reportedly burnt out due to the workload.
It’s possible that these corruption charges are being trumped up or exaggerated by the Chinese government for public-relations purposes. But if the stories are true, Chinese officials are managing to execute acts of official corruption on a scale and with a degree of meticulousness that crooked American pols haven’t been able to pull off in a long, long time. Just think: In the United States, everybody got excited when FBI agents found $90,000 stored in Congressman William Jefferson’s freezer. Why, that’d barely be low-level-bureaucrat bribe money these days in China.