Anti-graft agree­ment to close net on fugi­tives

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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