Chinese Real Estate Developers Pay to Get Fake UN Award

September 1, 2010 2:03 am Last Updated: December 31, 2015 3:35 pm
A real estate sales office in Beijing. (Getty Images)
A real estate sales office in Beijing. (Getty Images)

Chinese real estate companies are using faked awards, supposed to have been given on behalf of a United Nations agency, to boost their prestige.

Few to none of the copies of the UN Habitat Scroll of Honor award, which displayed prominently in some Chinese real estate firms, are actually authentic. A real estate company need only pay 360,000 yuan (US$52,951) to be “awarded” one of the certificates, according to Chinese media reports.

Over 200 real estate companies have “won” the UN Habitat Scroll of Honor award over the past five years, according to a report in International Finance News (guoji jinrong bao) of Aug. 26.

Located in top-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, as well as second and third-tier cities such as Wuhan, Qingdao, and Weihai, these companies range from unknown second class real estate enterprises to the country’s top developers.

The Habitat Scroll of Honor award, perhaps the most prestigious of its kind, was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Program in 1989, designed to acknowledge initiatives that make an outstanding contribution in fields such as shelter provisions, improving the quality of urban life, etc.

None of the awards cited in China were bestowed by the UN or its affiliated organizations, however. Instead they were all given out by one well-known real estate organization in China.

Last year a luxury, high-end property near a shopping center in Beijing posted a big sign on its walls announcing that it had “won the UN Habitat Scroll of Honour award.”

Sources told the Finance News that the pirated version of the “UN Habitat Scroll of Honour Award Evaluation Plan” stated that the judging panel consists of the UN-Habitat Program and a well-known Chinese real estate organization.

It was unclear to the untrained eye that the Chinese real estate organization was the only real organizer of the program, however—which states that it comes with a “promotional cost” of 360,000 yuan (US$52,951), implying that developers must pay that fee in order to “win” the award.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development’s website issued a statement on June 11 last year, pointing out that it was the only accredited organization for the UN-Habitat Program’s joint project in China, and that any corporation that wants a genuine UN-Habitat Program award must go through the Ministry.

To date the office has never declared nor nominated any commercial properties for the award.

Read the original Chinese article.