Anti-graft agreement to close net on fugitives
Security analysts have welcomed efforts by authorities in China and the United States to work more closely to curb corruption and catch economic fugitives.
US immigration officials will collaborate with Chinese counterparts to verify the identities of Chinese nationals requiring travel documents and will ensure regular charter flights to facilitate repatriation, according to a statement by the department.
Obser v e r s said the arrangement is not specifi directed at fugitive officials, but it has laid the foundations for future expatriation cooperation between the two countries.
“China’s efforts to eradicate corruption not only aim to tackle long standing domestic abuse but also contribute to maintaining a healthy relationship with the US,” said Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at the China Foreign Affairs University.
Liao Jinrong, director general of the Ministry of Public Security’s international cooperation bureau, is reported to have said in August that more than 150 economic fugitives — mostly corrupt government officials — are believed to be hiding in the US.
The Ministry of Public Security said it will work closely with the People’s Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange to monitor any suspicious flow of funds to foreign accounts.
Operation Fox Hunt, which ran from July until the end of last year, led to the capture and return of 680 economic fugitives from 69 countries and regions, the authorities said.
Huang Feng, a law professor at Beijing Normal University, said Sky Net, an upgraded version of Operation Fox Hunt, marked the next level of China’s search overseas for fugitives and their illicit assets. The campaign has identified, and is focused on, the main destinations for China’s economic fugitives, largely developed Western countries.
“Another target group is corrupt officials who obtained immigrant status and settled down in harboring countries using illegal asset transfers,” Huang said.
In early April, federal prosecutors in the US began legal proceedings against Qiao Jianjun, a former employee at China Grain Reserves Corp. He is suspected of fraudulently obtaining a visa and transferring $48.4 million to the US through money laundering. It is the first time US authorities have attempted to prosecute a Chinese official accused of corruption.
Liang Shuying, a professor of international law at the China University of Political Science and Law, said China and the US do not have an extradition treaty, but they can repatriate criminal suspects through other channels such as effective police cooperation mechanisms.
“Also, China needs to improve transparency in its own legal system and enforcement procedures to mesh with Western countries,” Liang said.