A man and his family have been arrested after they reportedly got married and divorced some 23 times in just two weeks in an alleged bid to cash in on a government compensation scheme.
The scheme saw the government offer compo to each resident of a village set to be razed, with each person married in the area then registered as a resident and entitled to a payout under the plan.
Marriage officials in the village of Lengshui, which is in Lishui City in East China’s Zhejiang Province, reported family leader Mr Pan to the police on 19th September after noticing their alleged exploitation of a loophole in the law.
Mr Pan’s village is to be razed by the government as part of an urban renewal project, with officials announcing a scheme which will see each affected resident given as minimum compensation of one 40-square-metre flat.
Those forced to relocate as a result of the project aimed at creating a new ‘urban village’ needed only to ensure that they were listed in the village’s official ‘hukou’ – household registration – by 10th April.
Mr Pan saw this as an opportunity to claim additional subsidies, and allegedly began instructing his relatives on how to cheat the system.
Investigators said that Mr Pan began frequenting his local Civil Affairs Bureau on 6th March, divorcing his wife and marrying his sister-in-law.
As soon as the paperwork was done, Mr Pan filed reportedly for divorce and married a second sister-in-law before repeating the procedure to wed his own mother-in-law on 11th March.
Meanwhile, his other relatives followed suit and filed for no fewer than 23 sham marriages and divorces in the two space of just two weeks.
Patriarch Mr Pan claimed his family’s actions were “not unlawful” and indeed “legitimate”.
He reportedly admitted: “We were only trying to get more compensation.”
However, authorities said that though Chinese civil law does not limit the number of marriages and divorces an individual is entitled to – or indeed the amount of time they must wait before marrying again – the family’s actions were used to defraud the government, thus breaking the law.
Mr Pan and three others are currently in custody, while seven of his relatives were remanded on bail.
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