A secret Beijing apartment full of cash

Business & Technology


Photo credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

The former chairman of a scandal-plagued Chinese bank has confessed to hiding millions of yuan in bribes in a Beijing apartment in what Bloomberg called “one of China’s biggest financial corruption cases.”

Taking bribes, corruption, and bigamy were the charges against Lài Xiǎomín 赖小民, former head of China Huarong Asset Management Company. (Chinese officials up on corruption charges are also often disciplined for bigamy or other crimes of a sexual nature.) Huarong is state-controlled, but also listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Last week, Lai confessed in a state TV documentary (in Chinese) that he preferred his bribes as cash payments. He said he would fill up his car trunk with cash, and then stash it at a secret, unoccupied apartment. Anti-corruption investigators found more than 200 million yuan ($29 million) in cash.

China’s highest-denomination bank notes are 100 yuan, so Lai would have had at least 2 million pieces of paper money, which would make a block of about 2.4 cubic meters in volume, according to this Chinese-language calculation.