Yang Dacai, head of Shaanxi’s Provincial Work Safety Administration, became the Chinese internet’s latest laughingstock after he was spotted smiling at the site of a highway crash that left 36 people dead.
After images of Yang’s ill-timed grin were plastered on China’s microblogs, outraged netizens not only publicized his identity but also posted pictures of Yang sporting five different luxury watches.
The watches were estimated to be worth more than 200,000 yuan (US$31,390) in total.
Yang responded to his critics on his official microblog account, saying he was “filled with regret” about the grin, which he said was intended to lighten the mood for his fellow cadres. “Maybe, in an unguarded moment, I got a little too relaxed myself,” he wrote.
Of the five expensive watches, Yang wrote, “I purchased [them] at different times. They were purchased legitimately, with my own income.”
The next day, additional photos surfaced of Yang wearing as many as six more expensive watches. Shaanxi disciplinary authorities announced they were investigating Yang, and promised consequences for any “discipline violation or corruption.”
Sources: Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报), The Vancouver Observer, The Wall Street Journal
Ben Kessler is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. He serves as editor of the China Compliance Digest, where a version of this post previously appeared. The next 20 people to pre-order The China Anti-Corruption Handbook will receive an annual subscription to the China Compliance Digest at no additional cost.