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Fugitive returned 15 years on

By Zhang Yan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-14 07:43

One of the country's most-wanted economic fugitives, who had been on the run for 15 years in New Zealand, returned to China on Saturday to turn himself in, according to the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Yan Yongming, 47, former chairman of Tonghua Golden-Horse Pharmaceutical Co in Jilin province, who was accused of fraud and embezzlement involving $624 million ($91.6 million), fled to New Zealand in 2001 after his crime was exposed.

Yan returned voluntarily to confess to his crimes, offering to return "a huge amount of ill-gotten assets" and pay a hefty fine, the top anti-graft watchdog said in a statement, without giving further details.

According to the CCDI, he is the 36th fugitive to have returned to face trial since April last year, when Interpol issued "red notices" - international arrest warrants - to track down 100 Chinese corrupt fugitives and confiscate their ill-gotten gains. China placed Yan fifth on its list of 100 most-wanted fugitives.

In August, the New Zealand High Court ordered an end to a money laundering investigation into Yan and a freeze of assets totaling NZ$43 million ($31 million), according to New Zealand police.

The judgment follows a three-year investigation into Yan that focused on the laundering of large sums of money reportedly amassed from fraud and corruption allegedly conducted in China between 1999 and 2001, according to the police.

Police said in the statement that they would end their investigation and release Yan's properties once he hands over the money, with the recovered funds to be shared between China and New Zealand.

According to reports in New Zealand, both countries intend to start negotiations on a bilateral treaty for extraditing fugitives.

However, sources from the Ministry of Justice said that signing such a treaty would take a long time due to complex procedures.

"Yan's return once again proves there is no safe haven for fugitives, and the Operation Sky Net campaign has been tightened," the CCDI said.

zhangyan1@chinadaily.com.cn

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