Ex-official on 'most wanted' list is arrested

Updated: 2015-05-11 04:31

By ZHANG YI in Beijing(China Daily Latin America)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

A former government official accused of embezzling nearly 100 million yuan ($15.4 million) has been sent back to China after Singapore canceled his permanent residency permit.

Li Huabo, a former financial official in Poyang, Jiangxi province, returned on Saturday and turned himself in to the police after four years on the run.

Li is the latest suspect from the country's list of 100 most wanted economic fugitives to be arrested. He faces charges of corruption, the People's Procuratorate of Shangrao, Jiangxi province, announced at Beijing International Airport on Saturday. He is said to be the second most important suspect on the list.

"I was on tenterhooks every day since I fled China on Jan 29, 2011," he said at the airport. "I often had nightmares, including ones where I was caught by the police and put into jail. I am willing to accept any decision made by the Chinese government."

Li is alleged to have misused his powers at Poyang's finance bureau to embezzle the money from the local government's infrastructure fund with former co-workers between 2006 and 2010. Prosecutors in Poyang say 29 million yuan was funneled into banks in Singapore.

The prosecution department filed a case against Li on Feb 13, 2011, and Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest 10 days later.

He was caught by police in Singapore at a casino on March 2, 2011, a month after he escaped from China.

However, the countries do not have an extradition treaty, and a complex series of talks followed about how he could be returned to China. Li and his family officially emigrated to Singapore and obtained permanent residency.

He was sentenced to 15 months in prison by a Singapore court for "dishonestly accepting stolen property" on July 10, 2014, and served 10 months. A total of 182,000 Singapore dollars ($137,000) confiscated by the authorities there has been returned to Poyang.

The Central Commission of Disciplinary Inspection, China's top anti-graft authority, said the list of 100 economic fugitives and the arrest warrants issued against them are part of an operation called Sky Net. The initiative began last month and targets officials suspected of corruption who are at large in foreign countries. The aim is to recover misappropriated money and assets.

The United States, Canada and Australia have become popular destinations for corrupt officials who have transferred millions of yuan overseas through money-laundering operations and underground banks.

Officials said China will continue to intensify cooperation with a wide range of countries to bring the suspects to justice.