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Web China: Alleged Taobao scandal stirs sensation

(Xinhua)

15:13, May 01, 2012

HANGZHOU, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Some employees at Taobao.com, China's largest online retailer, have reportedly conspired with business owners to cheat consumers, sparking outcry online.

IT Time Weekly, a Chinese commercial magazine, reported on April 20 that some employees at Taobao, a unit of Alibaba Group, have taken bribes from online shop owners and secretly helped them remove consumers' malicious comments and raise credit ratings.

The story also reported that some employees misused advertising tools on the Taobao transaction platform, and some have even started their own businesses to reap hefty but illegal profits.

Such corruptions have extended from individual employees to the whole company, including staff, technicians and project planners, the story claimed.

"This has become the biggest obstacle for Taobao to conduct online business transactions on a level playing field," the story suggested.

Although the validity of the accusation is yet to verified, it has been forwarded and commented on by over 10,000 tweets on Sina Weibo, China's most popular Twitter-like site.

"I don't know who I should believe, because Internet shop owners may sell some inferior-quality products online as long as they have personal relationships with Taobao employees," a "tulip" wrote on Sina Weibo.

Taobao, invested by Alibaba Group in 2003, boasted over 400 million users early 2011 and registered an annual sales revenue of 600 billion yuan (95.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, accounting for 80 percent of China's online shopping.

As the largest online retailer in China, Taobao sees more than 8 million express parcels delivered each day, accounting for 60 percent of the country's total shipping volume, according to statistics released by the company at the end of 2011.

Tao Ran, vice president of Alibaba Group, responded to the scandal in an interview with Xinhua.

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