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Top suspect willing to return and face the music

By ZHANG YAN | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-27 07:25

One of China's most-wanted fugitives will return from New Zealand to stand trial, according to the authorities.

Yan Yongming, former chairman of Tonghua Jinma Pharmaceutical Industry Group in Jilin province, is accused of fraud and embezzlement valued at $250 million. Last month, the 47-year-old turned himself in to Chinese judicial authorities and said he will return voluntarily to face trial.

"He has reached an agreement with police in both New Zealand and China, and will return to face the courts. He is willing to return the money he received illegally," said a senior official from the Ministry of Public Security, who declined to be identified.

In addition, judicial officers in both countries are in advanced negotiations about sharing $31 million that Yan allegedly stowed in New Zealand, the official said.

However, he was unable to provide details of how China's judicial authorities will conduct the investigation into Yan, who holds New Zealand citizenship under the name of William Yan.

According to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China's top anti-graft watchdog, Yan fled to New Zealand in 2001 after charges were brought against him.

In 2005, Interpol issued a red notice-an international arrest warrant-for him. In April last year, Yan was fifth on Interpol's list of the 100 most-wanted Chinese fugitives at large overseas.

In August, the New Zealand High Court decided to end a money laundering investigation into Yan, and ruled that his alleged illegal earnings, thought to be as much as NZ$43 million ($30 million), will be forfeit, according to a statement released by New Zealand police.

The judgment followed a complex three-year investigation into Yan that targeted large sums he allegedly collected via a number of frauds and corrupt activities perpetrated between 1999 and 2001, the New Zealand police said.

The statement said the police will end their investigation and unfreeze Yan's assets once he has returned the money, which will be shared between China and New Zealand.

According to Stuff, an online news portal in New Zealand, the two countries will soon open negotiations related to a bilateral extradition treaty.

However, the Ministry of Justice said the complex procedures involved mean it is unlikely the treaty will be signed anytime soon.

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