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China detains 7 for "house sister" scandal


07:10, January 31, 2013

BEIJING, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Seven people have been detained after being implicated in the scandal of the "house sister," a woman alleged to have illegally amassed 20 homes using multiple identities.

They will be subjected to criminal investigation for their suspected violations, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) on Wednesday.

Those detained include four former police officers, one who worked in Beijing, two in Shanxi Province and another in Shaanxi.

Previous investigation found Gong Ai'ai, a resident in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, has at least two identities and hukou, Chinese household registration records.

Chinese netizens dubbed her "house sister" after an online microblogger exposed that she owns 20 homes worth about 1 billion yuan (159 million U.S. dollars), some of which were purchased using her fake identities.

According to a MPS statement last week, Gong first registered as a resident in the town of Shenmu in Shaanxi. She later registered three identities respectively in two counties in the neighboring Shanxi Province and Beijing between 2004 and 2008.

Hukou is a Chinese permanent residence registration and personal identification system governed by public security departments. In China, one individual only has one legitimate identity and hukou record.

In Wednesday's statement, the ministry said it has launched a special campaign in the identity and hukou administrative system to comb out fake and duplicated identity records.

To date, 121 police officers have been punished for violations found in the campaign.

The ministry also promised further efforts to ensure the authenticity of identity and hukou information.

No one will be allowed to gain unfair benefits from having multiple fake identities and those in police departments who are found to be involved in such violations will not escape punishment, the ministry statement said.

China's property market controls restrict individuals buying multiple homes, but "ghost" identities can help the holders evade restrictions.

Multiple identities also raised public concern of possible corruption, such as unfair distribution of government-subsidized affordable housing and officials' evasion of personal property supervision.

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