New twist in Beijing car plate scandal

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, December 8, 2012
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In the latest twist to the ongoing controversy over Beijing's car plate scandal, it has emerged that it is the son of the capital's traffic management chief that embroiled his father in the wrongdoing.

Song Jianguo, the director of Beijing Traffic Management Bureau [File photo]

Media reports on Thursday accused Song Jianguo, the director of Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, of corruption over car plate lottery, prompting Beijing police to deny the allegation.

But it turns out Song's son and secretary are the errant duo who sold plates to frustrated car buyers for as much as 200,000 yuan (US$32,100) each, the Chongqing Morning Post reported yesterday, without identifying them.

Officials from the bureau and a car industry insider confirmed that Song assisted in the official probe into his son's illegal activities, the report said.

The bureau issues around 20,000 plates every month through a lottery system but there are more than a million applicants every month.

A record 1.26 million Beijing residents applied for car tags last month. Song's son and secretary reportedly cashed in over the soaring demand by scalping the car plates.

A Beijing car dealer, who declined to be identified, said the pair's connections with the authorities greatly facilitated the practice. "Under the strict quota, only those have close connections with authorities can engage in the business," he added.

Another insider told the paper that Song's son might be in possession of some plate numbers with in-demand prefixes like Jing A or other lucky numbers. They sell for a bigger price. Jing is a shortened name for Beijing.

The paper claimed a deputy director with the Beijing Vehicle Management Administration is also being investigated in the scandal.

The scam first came to light when someone by the name of Liu Xuemei won the lottery for seven straight months. Netizens smelled a rat and discovered that Liu, who is in her 30s, is the deputy director of the vehicle management department in the Ministry of Public Security. She is in charge of drafting rules and issuing vehicle licenses.

But Liu and Beijing Transportation Commission have denied any wrongdoing or malpractices. The commission claimed it was likely that all the winners happened to have the same name.

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