BEIJING (AP) — Under the cover of night, investigators last year hauled away four truckloads of plunder including gold statues and boxes of high-end liquor that were allegedly part of the ill-gotten gains of a Chinese general under investigation for corruption, a financial magazine reported.
The investigation, corroborated in an online forum by a Defense University professor in what was considered an official confirmation, highlights rampant corruption within the Chinese military, although details of the case against Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan may never be announced publicly because it most likely will go before a military court.
The highly regarded financial magazine, Caixin, published several articles Tuesday on the rise of Gu to a position of great influence within the People's Liberation Army and the investigation of him, including details about confiscated goods and a mansion he built modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Caixin said military investigators catalogued the goods at one of Gu's mansions during the daytime but confiscated them at night to avoid any public outrage over the items, which included a boat, statue and basin made of gold and countless cases of Moutai liquor.
"About two dozen military policemen in plainclothes queued up in two lines, facing each other. Boxes and boxes of special-order Moutai were transported to the two military trucks parked at the door," Caixin wrote, describing the scene on the night of Jan. 12, 2013.
Gu has not been seen since early 2012 and his name has been removed from the official Defense Ministry website. Last summer, Gong Fangbin, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, confirmed that Gu was under investigation in a public forum organized by the party-run People's Daily newspaper, saying the public was upset over the crimes of Gu and his predecessor. The predecessor, Wang Shouye, was given a suspended death sentence by a military court in 2006 for taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes.
The Caixin report was the first to provide details of the Gu investigation. It said the officer lined his pockets through huge kickbacks in transfers of military-owned land in premium locations throughout China.
In Shanghai, Gu allegedly received a 6 percent kickback for a military plot that fetched more than 2 billion yuan ($330 million), and in his hometown of Puyang, his family was known for land grabs and real estate developments, Caixin said.
In Puyang, Gu's family built seven riverside villas for Gu and his siblings, but the best-known among locals is the general's house in the heart of Puyang on a piece of land seized from a local collective without any paperwork, Caixin said. Modeled after the imperial palace, the house has statues, a fountain, a garden with winding covered corridors, and living quarters for butlers and servants, Caixin said. The report did not clarify whether the house was seized.
Quoting villagers, Caixin said Gu hired artisans from the imperial palace museum to paint the interiors.
Caixin said Gu was skillful in courting good will among military bosses, but also proved competent in handling logistic affairs during his rise through the ranks. His years in the military's logistics department coincided with a massive buildup in barracks and housing, Caixin said.