A dozen senior women officials from Beijing are under investigations for lavishing government fund worth millions of Yuan on anti-ageing and exotic beauty treatment at luxurious beauty parlours.
Investigations were started after a complaint a labour union leader, Bai Hong, from the Beijing Health Bureau. It was revealed that between “July 2006 and March 2011, Bai embezzled 3.39 million Yuan (US$544,095) used for beauty,” the Beijing-based Procuratorial Daily reported.
“After a tip in 2011, Bai, in charge of the union's finance and accounting, was found to have handed over large amounts of invoices, mainly issued by four companies as fees for meetings, training and office supplies related to union activities - while the real expenses were for beauty services,” the report said.
Prosecutors looking into the case said many of the suspects are in their 40s and 50s and obsessed with improving their looks - some of them are estimated to have been to high-end parlours hundreds of times.
“When those female officials were caught, they looked gorgeous and young. However, when the prosecutors’ office staff visited them later in jail, they looked old and gray," Wu Min, a media officer of The First Branch of Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate told state media.
One of the 12 women investigated, Yang Ping, a former section chief with Beijing Finance Bureau, was found between 2004 and 2008 to have asked others to send her member cards worth a total of 389000 Yuan (more than $61700) to support her consumption in the parlors, prosecutors said. She also handed in invoices valued at 169000 Yuan (over $26800) to the bureau and took the reimbursed money, the paper said.
“More than one year ago, our prosecutors found criminal proof against Bai. From there, they were so perceptive that they found clues from places you would have never thought possible, leading to the arrest of these officials," Wu said.
She added that corruption cases previously centered on money, but now the focus has been expanded, with beauty parlors just being one area. All corrupt officials like money, she said, but beyond that personal desire determines what gifts they receive.