Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chinese officials sacked over housing lottery scam - Agence France-Presse - 28th June 2009

Five officials in central China have been sacked and five other people arrested over a scam involving a lottery for apartments.

In China, where the first lottery was authorised in 1987, only two types are allowed: those which provide funds for social projects such as supporting orphans and disabled or elderly people, or for sports installations.

More than 5000 people took part in the lottery which was intended to allocate 124 low-cost apartments in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, Xinhua news agency said.

Authorities grew suspicious when six consecutive numbers won. The chances of that happening were "one out of a thousand trillion'', a maths specialist from Huazhong Normal University was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.

Police arrested the alleged mastermind and four accomplices, including two who were responsible for drawing the lots and one who wrote a computer program to produce the desired result, Xinhua said.

The suspects allegedly took nearly one million yuan ($186,567) and are likely to be charged with economic crimes, it said, quoting a city official.

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