Caijing has a spectacular article looking at some of the troubles still shrouding the CCTV fire from last month, and they don’t all have to do with the destroyed building. The blaze that gutted the TVCC building on February 9 may have also uncovered questionable financial deals made by high-level CCTV executives.
One particular target is CCTV building construction project director Xu Wei, who was detained by police shortly after the fire. Xu worked as legal representative for a JV between CCTV and Beijing Gauging Consultants Co. Ltd., a building company, and was handed control of the conglomeration’s 20 billion yuan construction fund.
According to a preliminary investigation, Xu earned a commission of about 80,000 yuan from CCTV’s purchase of fireworks for the February 9 show, which was handled by the San Xiang fireworks company. Caijing learned that a fireworks commission may be as high as 30 percent.
And, of course, there’s that whole deal about how the building could have burned down so fast, especially since it was so expensive. The budget for the project had ballooned from an initial 7.7 billion yuan in 2005 to over 12 billion yuan, not including an extra 7 billion earmarked for equipment costs.
Yet before the fire, inspectors found deficiencies in eight of 26 areas probed at the building site. Despite the known risks, the construction company did nothing to try to stop the fireworks display from happening.
So, like most disasters over here, the destruction of the TVCC boot may have been an inevitable outcome of a bunch of high-level people cutting corners and passing money under the table. It’s a stark reminder why clamping down on corruption and laying out everything transparently is the way to go, even if it’s been “the culture” so far to wheel and deal behind smoke screens.