There was an unlikely item up for auction on Alibaba’s Taobao recently: the campus of a privately-owned university in one of China’s ancient capitals, Xi’an.
The property comprises as many as 116 buildings across an area of more than 800,000 square metres close to the scenic Red River Valley National Park.
Bids for Huaxi Professional University will open at Rmb425 million ($63.2 million), 15% lower than the price first requested at auction in June last year.
According to National Business Daily, the sale is being demanded by the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court as a result of financial crimes committed by the university’s former principal Wang Mingliang.
Wang took charge of a crowdfunding scheme that promised to pay high rates of interest over a five-year period, raising Rmb2.39 billion between 2007 and 2014. Yet the scheme only managed to return Rmb1.29 million to its 14,931 investors.
Wang and his accomplices were later charged with “illegal absorption of the public’s deposits” and the university was listed on Taobao’s ‘judicial auction’ platform, an online channel that has been liquidating confiscated assets since November 2012.
The auction platform is now used by over 3,300 courts across China, adds ThePaper.cn, although there haven’t been any bidders for the Xi’an campus yet. Proceeds from the sale of the campus will be used to reimburse some of the investors in the crowdfunding scheme, the court says.