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Suspicions hit auction of 43 cars for 390,000 yuan

By Leeann Li (Shanghai Daily)

09:47, July 17, 2012

THE government in Zhongmou County in central Henan Province will publish video footage documenting the auction of 43 government cars to counter public suspicion that the cars were sold for less than their value at 390,000 yuan (US$61,113), causing a loss of state assets.

The government insisted the process was legal and fair, and the 43 cars, including 26 domestic minivans and 15 low-end sedans, were used for more than a decade and didn't worth a high bid auction.

Shi Yongtao, an official with Zhongmou's Party disciplinary commission, said the cars were used frequently and nearly scrapped, and the reason for selling these cars is to decrease government expenses and promote openness.

The Party disciplinary commission of the county and its state-owned supervision and management authority were responsible for the auction held on June 30, reported Xinhua news agency.

The Henan Zhongdaxin Appraisal Co Ltd estimated the 43 cars' value at 255,300 yuan and the auction brought 391,100 yuan, which was a gain of 53 percent for national assets, Shi said.

But commenters on the Internet didn't accept his explanation and remained suspicious over the bids, especially because some of the sedans sold for just thousands of yuan.

"It's ridiculous that a car is just worth around 9,000 yuan," one commenter said, adding that the government "priced the vehicles as (scrap) iron."

Media reports showed an executive from Zhongdaxin surnamed Zhong who appraised the cars was the one who held the auction, leading to accusations that the rules weren't followed and friends were able to get cheap cars.

The Henan Auction Co Ltd denied the allegations and removed his personal information from the company's website, Xinhua said.

According to the China Association of Auctioneers, Zhong was a member of Henan Auction Co Ltd, and according to the China Appraisal Society, he runs Zhongdaxin.

Neither Zhong nor his company could be reached for comment yesterday.

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