Suspect relieved to be home

Updated: 2015-01-13 05:10

By ZHANG YAN(China Daily)

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Wang Guoqiang felt a sense of relief as he stood on Chinese soil after living a fugitive's life in the United States for two years.

The 54-year-old was the top official in Liaoning province's Fengcheng — which literally means Phoenix City and has a strong agricultural industry.

Wang fled to the US after sensing he was being placed under investigation.

Earlier reports alleged that he sold a State-owned thermal power plant in the city to a Chinese–American businessman for 11 million yuan ($1.8 million) in 2004 and fled to the US with more than 200 million yuan, which officials cannot confirm as the investigation is still under way.

The sale price is much lower than the plant's value.

"I can finally feel at ease and don't have to worry about being recognized in the US to avoid being arrested," said Wang in a letter of confession that was sent to the top anti-graft watchdog and secured by China Daily.

Wang was one of more than 150 suspected corrupt officials, many of them still at large in the US, Chinese authorities said.

In recent years, the US has become one of the main destinations for suspected corrupt Chinese officials.

They have transferred a huge amount of suspected ill-gotten gains through money laundering and underground banks, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Since July, when the ministry launched a special action called Fox Hunt to target economic fugitives and confiscate their illegally acquired assets, dozens of alleged fugitives, including many suspected corrupt officials, have been brought back from the US to face trial, the ministry said.

A key reason for Wang's return is to protect his wife and daughter and to seek lenient punishment, according to investigators at the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Wang's wife, who was a customs official in Fengcheng, went to the US with him in 2012. His daughter works at an accounting firm in the US after graduating from a university there in 2010.

Wang said that with a husband and father on the wanted list, his wife and daughter faced challenges and prejudice from other people on returning to China.

Investigators said Wang's wife nearly went blind as she wept each day, worrying about the family's fate. She could not return to China even after her father and sister died, they added.

His wife and daughter are still in the US.

According to investigators' interrogation log, a tearful Wang said: "Only by returning and confessing, will I be able to end my life of crime and start a new life. During two years' hiding in the US, life was really tough without a stable job and income."

Chinese authorities said judicial agencies will negotiate with their US counterparts on "major cases and work closely on some individual cases under the Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation".

Liu Dong, deputy director of the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau, said China will enhance judicial cooperation with US law enforcement officials with a view to intelligence sharing, case investigation and drawing up plans for arrests.