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Man claims court tried to hush up complaint over property dispute

A COURT in Jiangsu Province has denied a resident's claim that it had used 20,000 yuan (US$2,927) to suppress his complaint against two firms over a property evaluation dispute.

The payment was an offer by the two firms to settle the dispute, Nanjing Intermediate People's Court told today's Yangtze Evening News.

The two firms, Huaxin and Zhongsheng, confirmed yesterday to the newspaper that the money was their offer to put an end to the dispute that has lasted years.

Nanjing resident Wei Zhongcheng made his claim about the court in an online post. The post was then widely copied on popular Internet forums.

In the post, Wei said he was given a check for 200,000 yuan (US$29,277.4) on August 3 from the court, after it asked him to promise not to complain against the two firms any further.

He described the payment as the court's attempt to suppress his complaint.

Court official Bao Qiang told Yangtze Evening News the check was a legal settlement and absolutely appropriate in this case.

"It is for the benefit of both parties," Bao told the newspaper. "Wei is financially crippled after pursuing this case for years while the two firms had suffered huge blows to their businesses."

Wei had been in dispute with the two firms - Huaxin, a housing evaluation firm, and Zhongsheng, an auction house - since the two were recruited by the court to settle a previous dispute Wei was involved in 2005, according to Wei's post.

In the previous case, Wei was ordered by the court to pay back a debt of 1.6 million yuan to Shao Zhongyou.

Short of cash, Wei never paid.

According to law, the court decided to auction Wei's properties to finance the payment in February 2006.

It was then that the court appointed Huaxin to evaluate the properties and Zhongshen to hold the auction.

After several auction failures, Shao finally agreed to keep the two properties in lieu of cash payment.

The entire procedure abides by the law, another court official Yu Shuishen stressed to the Yangtze Evening News.

The two properties were valued at a total of 4.2 million yuan, which Wei said was far lower than the market value.

Wei then complained to the court, which prompted the court's investigation into the two firms. The court confirmed flaws in their operations.

In a second evaluation in August that year, Huaxin revised its evaluation of Wei's properties and said they were worth a total of 5.9 million yuan.

Despite that, Wei complained to higher courts against the two firms.

Both Huaxin and Zhongsheng said the dispute had gone on too long.

"Our firm has suffered too much losses due to the dispute in the past three years," Huaxin's general manager Zhang Jianli told the newspaper.

He said the quotes given for Wei's properties were fair.

Zhongshen's general manager Wang Jie also said he hoped to put an end to the dispute.


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