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China coal official stashed $33 million cash at home

Police found more than 200 million yuan ($33 million) in cash at the home of an energy official accused of taking bribes, a senior prosecutor said Friday.

It was China's biggest cash seizure ever.

The cash was seized at the home of Wei Pengyuan, deputy chief of the coal bureau under the National Energy Administration.

Wei is under investigation for alleged corruption.

China's coal industry has been under a government sweep for alleged corruption. Former China Resources chairman Song Lin was fired in April after journalist Wang Zhiwen publicly accused him of overpaying Shanxi Jinye Coal & Coking Group for coal mine acquisitions and laundering money through his mistress.

Two years ago, the party chief for Inner Mongolia and head of the region's coal industry, Liu Zhuozh, was tried  along with three associates for graft.

In southeastern Guangdong Province, police detained Wu Huasen, former director of the region's coal bureau. He allegedly took bribes from companies in exchance for government contracts.
In Henan Province, Deng Zhenju, former deputy director of Xinmi City Bureau of Geology and Mineral Exploration, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption involving more than 1.5 million yuan ($235,000).

In the latest case, local reports said investigators wore out four of the 16 cash-counting machines brought in to measure the $33 million stash, the AP said.

"If all that money was in 100 yuan notes, China’s largest cash denomination," the AP said, "it would pile 230 meters (750 feet) high -- more than two-thirds the height of the Eiffel Tower."


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.