World / Asia-Pacific

Global net tightened in hunt for Chinese fugitives

By ZHANG YAN and ZHANG YI (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-18 04:23

The United States, Canada and Australia are committed to cooperating with China on tracking down fugitives and confiscating their illegally acquired assets, China's top disciplinary watchdog said on Wednesday.

The three countries have offered to provide China with information about fugitives'visas or green cards, according to the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The commission said Chinese judicial bodies will negotiate with their US counterparts on major cases and work closely on some individual cases under the joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation.

China and Canada will set up a joint working group and consider conducting a joint action to capture fugitives and seize their illegally acquired assets when appropriate, the commission said.

"We have provided a priority list of corrupt officials to the US, Canada and Australia to request their assistance in seizing the fugitives." said a senior official at the commission's International cooperation Bureau, who declined to be named.

"They (the three overseas countries) have initiated procedures to investigate the criminals' visas or green card information," the official said.

In recent years, a large number of corrupt officials have fled to the US, Canada and Australia, transferring suspected proceeds of corruption to avoid punishment, according to China's Ministry of Public Security.

The ministry has said that by the end of last year, more than 150 corrupt officials were still at large in the US, with billions of yuan sent to that country illegally, mainly through money laundering or underground banks.

In July, the ministry launched a special action - "Fox Hunt 2014" - to trace economic fugitives on the run abroad.

Up to Dec 4, Chinese police had brought back 428 suspected economic fugitives from 60 countries and regions to face trial and seized some of the funds they transferred abroad.

They captured 197 of these suspects and persuaded 231 others to turn themselves in, according to the ministry, which said that many of the suspects have been transferred to prosecuting departments to face trial.

Liu Dong, deputy director of the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau, said, "Due to legal obstacles and different legal procedures, we face practical difficulties in repatriating fugitives."

Judicial bodies in the US and Canada also appear to be prejudiced against the Chinese legal system and mistakenly believe that "Chinese judicial officers will torture the suspects and prosecute them unfairly," Liu added. "So it's difficult for the police to repatriate the criminals."

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