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China courts use Taobao to auction assets of corrupt officials

More than 500 Chinese courts have joined Alibaba Group’s popular online shopping platform Taobao to sell confiscated assets of corrupt officials.

The confiscated items, including properties, cars, jewellery and stocks, are being sold by auction on, a special Taobao e-shopping platform designed for the courts. Potential buyers are required to deposit a certain amount of money in their Alipay accounts, Alibaba’s third party online payment service, before bidding.

Images and detailed introductions of the items are available on the platform along with bidding requirements and procedures.

Online shoppers can be invited to visit the high-value properties they are bidding on, said Zhai Jingmin, vice-president of Beijing Higher People’s Court.

The most expensive item to be auctioned is an office plaza once belonging to the detained chairman of Hit Shouchuang Technology Co Ltd, Gong Dongsheng. The property was priced $150 million when the bidding opened, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Taobao platform has attracted nearly 500 courts across the country since President Xi Jinping came into office in late 2012 and launched the anti-corruption campaign, Alibaba says. In 2013, 101 courts in Zhejiang provinces have joined the platform and held 1,946 online auctions, with a total value of 4.29 billion yuan ($701 million).

Online auctions should make the sales more transparent, fair and just, as branded by the platform, local commentators said. But some have questioned the oversight of the sales to prevent court officials from pocketing the money.

Sources: China Daily, Wall Street Journal, Beijing Times (京华时报)


Hui Zhi is the Senior Manager for Content with the China Compliance Digest, where a version of this post first appeared.

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