A federal jury in Las Vegas on Friday convicted two former principals of China's largest bank, who have been resident in the United States for the past seven years, of embezzlement and money laundering in the biggest case of its kind since 1949.
Xu Chaofan and Xu Guojun were discovered to have masterminded the "Kaiping case" of 2001, in which they defrauded the Stated-owned Bank of China of $485 million over the previous 10 years. The men's wives were also found guilty of the crime, the US attorney's office in Las Vegas said.
Images grabbed from CCTV programs show Xu Guojun (L) and Xu Chaofan, two former principals of Bank of China. A federal jury in Las Vegas on Friday convicted two, who have been resident in the United States for the past seven years, of embezzlement and money laundering. [file]
Xu Chaofan and Xu Guojun answered charges of racketeering, money laundering, international transportation of stolen property and passport fraud in a three-month trial, local media reported. They are to be sentenced on Nov 24.
The two Xus and Yu Zhendong, who has held management positions at the Bank of China branch in Kaiping, Guangdong province, engineered their "escape hatch" to the US since 1991 by marrying three unsuspecting women with US citizenship.
All three fled to the US when their crime was discovered in a bank audit.
The former bankers laundered a portion of their spoils by depositing more than $3 million in Las Vegas casino safes.
Yu, who earlier pleaded guilty to the charges, has been cooperating with the authorities on the capture of his accomplices. In 2004, he became the first Chinese corrupt official to be repatriated from the US, and was later sentenced to 12 years in prison.
It was not certain whether or not the two Xus would be repatriated after sentence had been passed, owing to differences in US and Chinese law, Bank of China spokesman Wang Zhaowen said on Sunday.
"The case is complicated," he said.
The US indictment came one week after the Canadian government announced on Aug 22 that Deng Xinzhi, suspect in a $2.94 million swindling case, had been repatriated to China after living in the US for five years.
Deng, a native of Beijing, and others allegedly swindled $2.94 million in 2002 by impersonating employees of the China Life Insurance company.
Canada's extradition of a Chinese economic case suspect represents a precedent.
"We appreciate Canada's move and hope law enforcement departments on both sides enhance cooperation in the future," China's Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.
The cases will act as a warning to potentially corrupt officials in China, Zhang Yong, head of Law Research Institute of Tianjin-based Nankai University, said.
Zhang viewed the two cases as a preliminary but significant step in legal cooperation between China, the US and Canada.
"I'm convinced it's the trend for the future," he said.