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Officials face red envelope probe

TWO top officials with local industrial and commercial watchdogs are being investigated for asking for "red envelopes" at wedding and funeral.

Chen Maohua, 51, director of Yancuo Industrial and Commercial Administration in Fujian Province's Longhai City, has been suspended after reportedly extending invitations to business executives and local government officials to his son's wedding on May 16, today's China Youth Daily reported.

The invitation is understood to be a request for money according to local custom.

One invitation recipient forwarded the invitation to Longhai's disciplinary supervisors and lodged a complaint.

Chen told investigators he had sent 150 invitations to Jiuhu and Yancuo towns, both under his administration. The targets included 23 business executives and 94 village and township officials.

Investigators had retrieved 127 of the 150 invitations by May 14 but the rest have gone missing.

Chen's administration oversees nearly 3,000 businesses.

A supermarket owner who declined to be named told the China Youth Daily that local people usually give 300 yuan (US$44) at weddings. But he thought the donation should be about 1,000 yuan on such an occasion for a man as powerful as Chen.

As well as the wedding invitations, Chen is under investigation by local prosecutors for dereliction of duty, according to Han Binkun, director of Longhai Industrial and Commercial Administration. Chen's assistant Xie Lili is being investigated for the same offence.

And in Guangdong Province's Shanwei City, Zhang Huimin, director of Haifeng County Industrial and Commercial Administration, is being investigated by disciplinary authorities for the funeral he held for his mother on Wednesday, today's News Express newspaper reported.

Hundreds of people joined the 1-kilometer funeral procession which wound through the county's downtown area for 40 minutes. Seven luxury vehicles were seen in the cortege.

On a 30-square-meter board at the funeral parlor visitors left paper slips marking the money donated by mourners. The amounts ranged from a dozen yuan to several thousand yuan.


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