China / Government

Guangdong learns the art of nabbing fugitive officials

By Li Wenfang in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-15 08:16

A corrupt official profits from his power, sends family abroad, transfers assets, prepares his passport, flees the country and seeks foreign residency.

This is the usual roadmap taken by a fugitive official, said Chen Weixiong, deputy director of the anti-corruption and bribery bureau of the Guangdong Provincial People's Procuratorate.

Procuratorates in Guangdong have acquired broad experience in retrieving runaway officials, with the captured fugitives outnumbering those escaping the country annually every year since 2006.

Eight fugitives were caught by procuratorates in the province in the past three years.

"The proximity of Hong Kong and Macao enables procuratorates in Guangdong to move a step forward in retrieving fugitives and their illegal gains," Chen said in a statement.

Some fugitives flee to Hong Kong or Macao before they move on to a foreign country such as the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

Some transfer their ill-gotten money to Hong Kong or Macao by taking cash or using underground banks.

Some launder the money in Hong Kong or Macao before sending it overseas.

Some officials receive money in their overseas accounts from domestic bribers.

Yu Zhendong, former head of the Kaiping sub-branch of Bank of China, his predecessor Xu Chaofan and his successor Xu Guojun, who together embezzled $482 million, started to transfer most of their ill-earned money two years before they fled to Hong Kong in 2001 and later to the US.

They used the money for foreign currency and stock trading and property purchases or laundered money through gambling before transferring it to the US and Canada. Yu was repatriated to China in 2004.

Chen summed up four main ways of retrieving fugitives: extradition, repatriation for immigration violations, arresting a fugitive overseas and persuading a fugitive to return.

In March, the country's top prosecuting body issued a notice requiring prosecuting agencies to establish and update a database of corrupt officials still on the run.

It announced last month it would set up a task force to intensify efforts to bring back fugitive officials and their illegal gains.

Chen said it is necessary to strengthen cooperation with overseas judicial and law-enforcement agencies and with domestic police, border defense, transportation, civil aviation and telecommunications agencies, and to stress the work in preventing officials from fleeing.

Zhang Jingen, a professor with the center for anti-corruption studies at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, blamed inadequate management of officials for the number of fugitive officials, pointing to cases in which officials were found to have fled only after being out of contact for a long time.

He Xiaotong contributed to this story.

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