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Procurators to chase runaway officials
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-14 00:43

Procurators have vowed to step up efforts in the fight against corrupt suspects, especially those corrupt officials who have fled abroad.

Speaking at a national conference on reining in runaway corrupt suspects, Vice-Procurator-General Wang Zhenchuan disclosed that the nation had investigated and handed down punishments to 22,913 corrupt suspects and had broken 11,150 major cases during the first seven months this year.

Among the arrested suspects, 1,767 were officials of county-level and above, and 109 were of provincial-level, such as Bi Yuxi, former vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Communications, Wang said.

Bi was arrested on charges of taking 60 million yuan (US$7.2 million) in bribes, reports said.

According to joint data from the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, by early 2004 there were more than 4,000 corrupt official still at large who had stolen 5 billion yuan (US$60.2 million) of public funds.

Among them, some are high-ranking officials who have fled to the United States, Canada and Australia after embezzling large sums of money.

Facing the austere situation of fighting corrupt suspects, Wang suggested that procurators sharpen their skills and broaden channels when chasing and arresting suspects who flee abroad.

Co-operation also needs to be stressed when hunting down the suspects, Wang said. "At the same time, we should strictly abide by not only Chinese law, but also the laws of related countries and regions and international conventions and practice as well."

On December 10, 2003, the Chinese Government signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption. According to normal procedures, the convention will take effect in China after its top legislature, the National People's Congress, gives approval in the near future.

The signing of the convention would bring excellent opportunities as well as new challenges to China in the fight against corruption, experts said.

The vice-procurator-general also urged that a long-term mechanism should be set up to prevent the fleeing of suspects and the transfer of illicit money to other countries.

In chasing the escaped suspects, Wang said special funds should be allocated and corresponding personnel be trained.

Statistics show that China has caught 71 corrupt suspects who had committed crimes by taking advantage of their position and fleeing abroad since 1998.

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