China, US target 5 most-wanted fugitives

Updated: 2015-12-23 07:56

By Zhang Yan(China Daily)

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Chinese law enforcement authorities are working with the United States on the cases of the five most-wanted corrupt Chinese officials living in the US, a senior anti-corruption official said.

China is seeking US judicial assistance in repatriating the five - four of whom are still at large - to China to face trial, said the senior official with the International Cooperation Bureau of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

"We are negotiating with our US counterparts on the five major corrupt fugitives, including Yang Xiuzhu, who is suspected of illegal immigration and is in custody awaiting deportation proceedings," said the official, who requested anonymity. "And we have decided to conduct joint investigations of the major cases."

Yang was a former deputy mayor of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

He said that during the China-US Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation meeting held in December last year in Beijing, the two countries discussed concerns about transnational crimes and agreed to work together in resolving the five cases.

The US requested that Chinese judicial authorities "provide more evidence and assist with their investigation", the official said.

"We are in advanced negotiations with US judicial authorities on the five major cases, including Yang's, and will exchange information in a timely manner and offer necessary evidence to the US judicial authorities for further investigation," he said.

In recent years, the US, Canada and Australia have become popular destinations for fleeing corrupt Chinese officials due to lack of extradition treaties and legal differences, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Meanwhile, a number of corrupt officials have illegally transferred billions of yuan in illegal assets to their foreign accounts through money laundering and underground banks, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, from 2003 to 2013, only two fugitives suspected of economic crimes were brought back from the US to face trial. This year, 48 have returned from the US, including three who were forcefully repatriated.

In the latest case, 64-year-old Huang Yurong, the former Party chief of Henan province's Highway Department, surrendered to police on Sunday and returned voluntarily from the US after spending 13 years on the run.

In April, Chinese judicial authorities launched an eight-month-long operation code-named "Sky Net" to hunt down 100 major corrupt officials at large abroad and confiscate their ill-gotten assets.

Additionally, the ministry has been working closely with People's Bank of China to monitor the suspicious flow of funds to the suspects' foreign accounts.

Figures provided by the ministry show that, from April to the end of November, police officers brought back more than 860 economic fugitives from abroad, including 196 corrupt officials. They also smashed more than 150 underground banks and arrested about 300 suspects. The amount of money involved was up to 800 billion yuan ($123.5 billion).

Liu Jianchao, director of the CCDI's International Cooperation Bureau, said that nearly half of the corrupt Chinese officials are still on the run in major destinations such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.