Tangxia township government officials in the city of Dongguan, Guangdong province, have recently come under heavy criticism after local media exposed the luxury villa homes they have built in recent years.
The officials are suspected of having abused their power to gain the right to land use at very low prices so they could have their luxury villas built.
Authorities in Dongguan confirmed in a statement to media on Tuesday that the disciplinary department started an investigation in April and is still working on the case.
Built on a hillside facing a big reservoir, the housing estate, called Hupan (lakeside) Mountain Villa, is dubbed "Tangxia's Zhongnanhai" (the central leadership compound in downtown Beijing) by local residents.
Hupan Mountain Villa includes six seven-story commercial apartment houses, which were built in the late 1990s, and villas that were constructed around 2008, Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday.
Investigations have found that the two- to three-story villas on the housing estate are owned by 50 to 60 township-level Party and government officials from Tangxia.
In addition to the township's Party secretary surnamed Ye, the town head surnamed Fang and their deputies, the villa owners include the town's leading officials in charge of public security, housing management, urban planning, construction and of the town's major government departments and organizations.
Hupan Mountain Villa is heavily guarded and is about five minutes' drive from the township government headquarters.
According to an unidentified official in charge of land resources and housing management in the town, in 2008 the Tangxia government sold the land to the town's major officials for construction of villas at a very low price of only 500 yuan ($77) a square meter.