Chinese Officials’ Ill-Gotten Gains Hit Auction Block As Anti-Graft Drive Persists

Confiscated ill-gotten gains from officials are to go up on auction in Wenzhou this weekend. (CFP)

Confiscated ill-gotten gains from officials are to go up on auction in Wenzhou this weekend. (CFP)

This weekend, Wenzhou residents will get to attend a luxury auction, but here’s the twist: the items are all ill-gotten gains. These items are scheduled to go under the auction hammer on May 10, as part of China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

As regional governments around China are doing their part to curb graft, such as monitoring government spending on gifts, watchdogs in Wenzhou, located in the eastern province of Zhejiang, came up with a unique solution—set up a drop-off where officials can turn in bribes and kickbacks received. The drop-off account, named “518,” which is homophonous in Chinese language with “I don’t want” (我不要), has collected over 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) and various gifted goods from over 50 departments, according to Chinese news site Global Times. Authorities said that most were voluntarily turned in, though some were confiscated from officials.

A group lot containing luxury watches, Chinese medicine, and gold and silver will start at 60,000 yuan. (CFP)

A group lot containing luxury watches, Chinese medicine, and gold and silver will start at 60,000 yuan. (CFP)

Some 80 items collected will be auctioned off, featuring both group lots and individual items. A group lot comprising luxury watches, traditional Chinese medicine, and jewelry will begin at 60,000 yuan ($9,638). South China Morning Post reports that a Dolce & Gabbana shirt will start at only 40 yuan, because its outdated style and size make it a less desirable bid. A Cartier watch, whose secondhand value was 20,000 yuan ($3,212), will start at 15,000 yuan ($2,409). All proceeds from the auction and collection from the account will return to the state treasure, and antiques and paintings will be donated to museums.

Wenzhou's anti-graft auction is not the first—a similar auction in 2009 was well-received by the public. (CFP)

Wenzhou’s anti-graft auction is not the first—a similar auction in 2009 was well-received by the public. (CFP)

Global Times says that this is not the first auction of ill-gotten gains—a 2009 auction of over 100 items raised more than 1 million yuan ($160,625). According to a spokesperson for Wenzhou’s discipline committee, this upcoming auction is an accumulation of confiscated bribes since then, and no auctions were held previously because there weren’t enough items, according to China News. It also reported that the prices the items fetch should not be predictive of guilty officials’ sentences—that is left to the prosecutors.

 

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