Recovery of fugitives’ illegal assets is focus of new initiative
In a new focus in the hunt for corrupt officials who have fled overseas, police will not only bring fugitives back to China to face justice, but will also emphasize recovering their ill-gotten assets, the Ministry of Public Security said. While the previous priority was collecting evidence in overseas manhunts, the recovery of assets acquired illegally in China will be a new anti-corruption initiative in the coming months, said a senior official at the ministry who requested anonymity. As part of the new initiative, public security authorities will work closely with People’s Bank of China, particularly the division that cracks down on money laundering, the official said. In addition, authorities will enhance communication and conduct joint investigations with other countries on a case-by-case basis in an attempt to repatriate more corrupt officials so they can stand trial. They also will share intelligence with their counterparts in those countries to locate, freeze and recover the ill-gotten assets, he said last week. In recent years, the United States, Canada, Australia and Singapore have become popular destinations for corrupt Chinese officials, due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties and differences in laws, the ministry has said. A large number of corrupt officials have transferred billions of yuan in illegal funds to their foreign accounts, either through money laundering or underground banks, the ministry said. As part of operation “Fox Hunt 2016”, which began in April, 409 fugitives have been returned from 61 countries and regions, it said. Thirtyeight former officials charged with corruption were among those arrested. Meanwhile, Chinese police have extradited a fugitive surnamed Chen from France, the first such action there since an extradition treaty between the two countries took effect last year. Chen, who is charged with illegal acquisition of public funds worth more than 20 million yuan ($3 million), was extradited to China on Monday after spending three years on the run in France. According to the ministry, more than 30 teams of law enforcement officers have been sent to capture fugitives in such countries as Madagascar, Thailand, Peru, the Philippines, Ecuador, the Republic of Korea, Cambodia and Spain. Several more fugitives will be extradited from Europe and South America in the near future, said the anonymous official at the ministry.