More than two years after it was revealed that Chinese property developer Wang De had paid bribes to officials in the southern island province of Hainan, the land resources bureau of the provincial capital Haikou has announced it is retracting the deals on several land lots and revoking permits issued to Wang's Mayard Development Group.
The reasons given by the bureau on May 4 included the involvement of Wang and Mayard in a number of cases of bribing officials, violating building codes and hoarding land for longer than two years without development.
The Haikou municipal government took back plots totaling 4 million square meters from the group without giving any financial compensation. The retracted land includes over a dozen plots acquired through bribes, said the announcement. The land development permits issued for another 18 land parcels in neighboring townships around Haikou were also revoked for the same reason, according to the First Financial Daily in Shanghai.
In addition to withdrawing the land, the authorities could dismantle the construction projects built in violation of building codes and some villas that had been illegally used for commercial purposes.
Newspapers reported in August 2009 that Wang had paid bribes to four senior officials at the municipal land resources bureau to obtain faster approval for land acquisitions and certain development projects invested in by Mayard. Those found to have accepted bribes included Chen Liqi, former deputy director of the bureau, and Wang Xiaoshan, the city's former chief land development planning official.
The corrupt officials were tried and sentenced in late 2009 but Wang was able to continue his business operations at that time. However, he came under a further probe in late 2010.
Quoting sources at disciplinary and investigation department, the media also reported in September last year that Lin Mingyong, former chief of the bureau, could have also accepted bribes when holding various previous positions at the city government.
Wang was forced to resign as a representative to the 5th Hainan Provincial People's Political Consultative Conference in November. Mayard's business operations have been suspended and financing support has already been halted, according to the First Financial Daily, quoting industry sources.
But Wang's legal troubles have not ended yet as investigations into bribery continue. A native of Leizhou in neighboring Guangdong province, Wang started investing in the real estate market in Hainan in the 1990s. He amassed tremendous wealth after successfully consolidating land parcels belonging to 26 different companies for integrated development at Haikou Bay.
He soon expanded his business operations to other fields, including tourism, cruises, hotels and golf courses. His personal wealth has been estimated at more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.58 billion). Wang built close connections with a business group based in Hong Kong, but he kept most investment projects in Haikou.
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