Low-income apartments draw frauds

08:25, January 11, 2011      

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Sharp-eyed netizens have noticed that this southern city's list of candidates for low-income apartments includes some people who drive expensive cars and live in high-end neighborhoods.

The nearly 5,300 households on the list show family assets below the benchmark of 320,000 yuan ($48,300).

However, the housing authority has said some of the data, including out-of-town securities, financial earnings as well as vehicle values, are not yet available.

"We published the list at the end of the year with a view to showcase the progress we had made over the issue, but it turned out to be improper," said Hu Jianwen, spokesman of the housing authority.

He said the bureau has evidence of cheating involving more than 20 households, which will face punishment.

Regulations state that fraudulent applicants can be deprived of the right to apply for three years.

But some fear the punishment is not enough to stop people from forging information in a bid to buy the houses for profit.

In contrast to Shenzhen, the neighboring city of Hong Kong considers it a crime to make fake statements when applying for a public house, and violators face fines up to HK$50,000 ($6,430) or six months in jail.

Chen Aipin, secretary-general of the Shenzhen Housing Research Institute, said one of the issues is that the government-funded houses can be traded in five years.

"It leaves a lot of room for making a profit, so no system can prevent some of the applicants providing fake information," he told Nanfang Daily.

The average housing price of the city exceeded 18,900 yuan per square meter last year, but the first batch of government-funded apartments for the low-income offered in 2008 were priced between 4,000 to 5,000 yuan per square meter.

Though the price has not been decided yet for the ongoing second batch, the big price gap and possible profits from trading five years later are attractive to applicants.

About 35 percent of the 8,148 initial applicants have so far been found unqualified, official figures show.

The list will continue to receive public scrutiny until Jan 14, according to the Shenzhen Bureau of Housing and Construction.

By Chen Hong, China Daily

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