Banks, graft, and corruption go together like a horse and carriage, not only in China, but also in other ‘developing nations’. But every now and then you run into these bizarre ‘only in China’ stories. Like those two bright little lights that robbed a bank of 51 million yuan (about USD 8.1 million), only to spend most of it on lottery tickets!
Ren Xiaofeng, 34, and Ma Xiangjing, 37, were the vault managers at a branch of the Agricultural Bank of China in Handan city, Hebei province, when they started “borrowing” money from the vault to play the state lottery.
The two thought that by buying millions of yuan worth of tickets they would eventually win back enough to replace the missing funds and enable them to leave their low-paying jobs for a life of luxury.
“I really regret that I have been so stupid in doing such a dumb thing,” Ren said after his arrest.
“Ma Xiangdong and I both like to play the lottery. We thought that we could use the money and buy lottery tickets and win the big prize.
“We were going to pay the bank back. We never intended to rob the bank.”
The two first took 50,000 yuan ($7900) from the vault on April 1 and spent it all on lottery tickets.
After failing to win, they returned to the vault over the following days to take out more and more money.
They spent a total of 47 million yuan ($7.45 million) on lottery tickets in Handan, about 300km southwest of Beijing.
“The most we ever spent on lottery tickets at one time was 14.1 million yuan. We were thinking that we could win double what we had stolen,” said Ren, the father of two-year-old twins.
“But we didn’t win. It was at that time that we knew we were finished and that we had better escape, so we decided we should steal some more money and flee Handan forever.”
On April 13 and 14 they stole another eight million yuan.
They told their wives they were going away on business, bought another six million yuan in lottery tickets, then parted ways.
As vault managers the two, who had been promoted to their posts months earlier, had the only keys to the vault.
The pair also knew the vault combination in violation of bank policy.
During their after-hours thefts, they cut the electricity supply to the bank to disable video surveillance cameras.
Ren and Ma are facing charges of corruption and the illegal use of public funds.
They face execution if convicted.
Hmmm, something tells me that there might be something wrong with the lottery system as well. I mean, 47 million on lottery tickets and no win??!? Some friggin’ lottery…
Well, I think I will keep doing my banking in Hong Kong for the time being.