Beijing industrial and commercial authorities have suspended the license of a company claiming to sell land on the moon for engagement in speculation and profiteering.
The Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Co., Ltd. with domestic financing, was registered on September 5 but has now stopped operation, said a source with the Chaoyang District Branch of the Beijing Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce over the weekend.
The so-called Lunar Embassy in China claimed that one can purchase an acre on the moon for 298 yuan (37 US dollars) through the company. The company started operation on October 19.
The Lunar Embassy issued customers a "certificate" that ensured property ownership including rights to use the land and minerals up to three kilometers underground, Li Jie, chief executive officer of the company was quoted as saying by earlier reports.
A Chaoyang District branch official said that according to state regulations, all activities which are in violation of state laws and regulations, and disturb social and economic order are regarded to be engaged in speculation and profiteering.
The branch official said that the Lunar Embassy is suspected of being engaged such infractions. Further investigation into the case will continue, the branch official said.
The Chaoyang District branch together with local police also seized invoices, "permits" of ownership of land on the moon, relevant documents, files of employees and more than 10,000 yuan (about 1,200 US dollars) involved in the company's business.
Li Jie, CEO of Lunar Embassy, said that 34 clients bought 49 acres of land on the moon in the first three days after his company became operational. The deals involve more than 14,000 yuan.
Li said he would cooperate the industrial and commercial authorities' investigation and expected to reopen his business when policies permit.
Earlier investigations by the Beijing Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce and the Chaoyang District branch show that the Lunar Embassy in China was registered to do businesses covering space travel, development of the moon and sales of land on the moon.
With a registered capital of 10 million yuan (1.23 million US dollars), the company has actually turned in only 100,000 yuan, a source with the administration was quoted as saying by the Beijing News.
In a different investigation, the Chaoyang District Branch of the Beijing Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce found that sale of land on the moon was not listed as the company's business when it was registered, according to early reports by the Beijing News.
China's Lunar Embassy claimed to be the sole agent in China for US-based Lunar Embassy, but it could not provide any materials put on record in the United States other than an authorization certificate by the US company, earlier investigations showed.
An earlier report said that Li Jie was nominated as the agent in China by Dennis Hope, a US entrepreneur who founded the first extraterrestrial estate agency Lunar Embassy in 1980, 11 years after the Apollo II mission first landed people on the moon.
Hope thinks a loophole exists in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, which forbids governments from owning extraterrestrial property but fails to mention corporations or individuals.
Despite the aforementioned deal with Lunar Embassy in China and telephone orders Li Jie claimed to have received from moonstruck people in the country, some doubt the legitimacy of the trading and others even regard it as fraud or a joke.
"It's ridiculous! The moon belongs to all mankind, so how can a company sell it?" said a man surnamed Xu, who works at a media group in Beijing.