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Officials removed from posts for low-income housing lottery scam
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Five officials were removed from their posts for dereliction of duty and five other people were arrested in central China's Hubei Province after a scandal involving a lottery for affordable apartments, local officials said Saturday.

The incident came to light on June 12, when the results of a drawing of lots for low-income housing showed that six consecutive numbers had won.

Such a lottery is commonly used to allocate affordable housing in China.

The 124 housing units were in the Yujiatou area of Wuchuang District in Wuhan, Hubei's capital, and more than 5,000 people applied.

"The probability for six consecutive numbers to be picked at the same time was one out of a thousand trillion," a local newspaper, the Chutian Metropolis Daily, quoted a math specialist from Huazhong Normal University as saying.

Police arrested five suspects: Wang Pin, who allegedly masterminded the scheme; Ke Peng, who helped solicit the six applicants; Liu Shengjun and Chen Tiancheng, who were in charge of the straw-drawing and Huang Zhi, who wrote a computer program that would choose the six numbers.

The suspects allegedly took nearly 1 million yuan (about 150,000 U.S. dollars) and are likely to be charged with economic crimes, a city official said.

The officials removed from their posts were Zhu Zhiqiang, vice director of the Wuhan Municipal Bureau of Land Resources and Housing Management, who was in charge of low-income house management; Leng Shande, a director at the bureau, Tang Changhan, a research fellow at the bureau; Jiao Jinming, vice director of the mapping center of land and house property, and Wu Xiaoguo, head of the Qiaokou district real estate bureau.

The local government launched an investigation of the case.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2009)

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