Beijing, Paris agree to more ef­fi­cient pur­suit of cor­rupt fugi­tives

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YAN zhangyan1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Beijing and Paris will strengthen joint in­ves­ti­ga­tions of cor­rupt of­fi­cials who have fled China, and also im­prove sys­tems for the re­turn of ill-got­ten as­sets il­le­gally trans­ferred to France, a se­nior anti-graft of­fi­cial from the Min­istry of Jus­tice said.

Chi­nese ju­di­cial of­fi­cers and their French coun­ter­parts will ex­pand in­tel­li­gence-sharing and ev­i­dence-col­lect­ing in ma­jor cases, said Zhang Xiaom­ing, deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Ju­di­cial As­sis­tance and For­eign Af­fairs Depart­ment at the Min­istry of Jus­tice.

They will set up a work team and work closely on in­ves­ti­gat­ing, freez­ing and con­fis­cat­ing the il­licit money. They also will es­tab­lish a quick-re­sponse pro­ce­dure to com­bat cross-bor­der eco­nomic crimes such as tele­com fraud, he said.

Zhang said that dur­ing a re­cent meet­ing in Beijing, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers from both coun­tries ex­changed views on track­ing down fugi­tives and re­turn­ing their ill-got­ten funds.

“It’s more than nec­es­sary to share in­for­ma­tion with our Chi­nese coun­ter­parts in a timely man­ner and, af­ter ob­tain­ing in­tel­li­gence, such as indi­ca­tions of money laun­der­ing or other eco­nomic fraud, ac­cess our sys­tem to con­tinue the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Robert Gelli, head of the Direc­torate for Crim­i­nal Mat­ters and Par­dons of the Min­istry of Jus­tice of France.

In re­cent years, West­ern coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States, Canada and some Euro­pean coun­tries, have be­come pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for cor­rupt of­fi­cials be­cause an ab­sence of bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaties and dif­fer­ences in legal sys­tems make it harder to se­cure their re­turn, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity.

Since April 2015, when In­ter­pol is­sued red no­tices for the cap­ture of 100 ma­jor Chi­nese cor­rupt of­fi­cials, 36 have been re­turned from over 16 coun­tries and re­gions — in­clud­ing two from France — to stand trial, ac­cord­ing to the CPC Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion.

Two of the most-wanted fe­male eco­nomic fugi­tives await ex­tra­di­tion from France to face trial, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity. One of them is Feng Jin­fang, a for­mer pri­vate com­pany ex­ec­u­tive, but the name of the sec­ond has not been dis­closed. Both sus­pects are ac­cused of de­fraud­ing in­vestors and have been crim­i­nally de­tained in France.

It will be the sec­ond time im­por­tant fugi­tives from China will be ex­tra­dited from France since a bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty took ef­fect in 2015.

Zhang ac­knowl­edged that while progress has been made, prac­ti­cal chal­lenges still hin­der fur­ther ju­di­cial co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and France.

Huang Feng, a law pro­fes­sor at Beijing Nor­mal Univer­sity, said the pri­or­ity is to “im­prove the qual­ity of ev­i­dence and offer a com­plete chain of ev­i­dence”, in­clud­ing proof that as­sets were raised il­le­gally, to as­sist France when their as­sis­tance is re­quested.

It’s more than nec­es­sary to share in­for­ma­tion with our Chi­nese coun­ter­parts in a timely man­ner.” Robert Gelli, head of Direc­torate for Crim­i­nal Mat­ters and Par­dons of French Min­istry of Jus­tice

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