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China Daily Website

Fugitive suspect returns to China

Updated: 2012-08-14 03:30
( China Daily)

A high-profile fugitive suspect who had been at large for more than seven years has turned himself in amid Chinese authorities' intensifying efforts to track down suspected criminals who have avoided justice.

The Ministry of Public Security published a statement on its website on Monday afternoon stating that Gao Shan has returned to China from Canada following the law enforcement authority's "long-term" pursuit.

Gao, former head of a branch of the State-owned Bank of China in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, is suspected of racketeering nearly 1 billion yuan ($157 million) together with Li Dongzhe, another suspect, from State-owned companies and government departments through banknote fraud between 2000 and 2004, according to the statement.

The statement said Gao fled overseas with others in December 2004.

Gao's alleged crimes were revealed in January 2005 when a company discovered more than 290 million yuan had disappeared from its account at Gao's bank.

The case was called the biggest fraud in Heilongjiang since 1949.

The Hesongjie branch of Bank of China in Harbin, where Gao worked before he moved to Canada, had only five counters when the case was exposed.

"Police authorities have been persistent in bringing fugitives including Gao Shan to justice over recent years. Gao Shan finally decided to return and turn himself in," said the statement.

Li, Gao's co-accused, returned from Canada in January.

Gao is the latest of a handful of suspected criminals who have returned to China to face trial despite difficulties in getting fugitives to return to the country due to the absence of extradition treaties between China and many Western countries.

Gao and Li's returns follow the expatriations of other high-profile Chinese fugitives, including Lai Changxing, a convicted smuggler and briber.

China has signed extradition treaties with 37 countries and criminal justice agreements with 47 others, according to the latest official figures from the ministry.

Yet until last year, at least 580 Chinese citizens suspected of economic crimes were still at large, with most hiding in North America and Southeast Asia, the ministry said.

Meng Qingfeng, head of the ministry's economic crime investigation bureau, told China Daily in an earlier report that the biggest hurdle in getting these fugitives back was the different judicial systems and the absence of extradition treaties between China and some Western nations.

"Trying to repatriate fugitives through channels such as immigration laws is complex and the procedures are lengthy," he said.

Since last year the Party disciplinary authorities have worked with prosecution authorities, police departments, courts and foreign affairs authorities in 10 provincial-level regions to carry out a pilot program that prevents officials from fleeing China and works at bringing fugitives back into the country.