Most-wanted fugi­tive re­turns af­ter 13 years

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

China’s most-wanted fugi­tive, Yang Xi­uzhu, who fled over­seas 13 years ago, re­turned to Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day in what is con­sid­ered an im­por­tant achieve­ment in China’s anti-graft ef­forts.

Yang, 70, for­mer deputy di­rec­tor of the con­struc­tion de­part­ment of Zhe­jiang prov­ince, has been ac­cused of em­bez­zling 250 mil­lion yuan ($36.3 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the Com­mu­nist Party of China’s Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion.

Yang fled over­seas in 2003 and had been to many coun­tries, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, France and the United States, to avoid pun­ish­ment. She took an Amer­i­can Air­lines flight back to Bei­jing from Dal­las and was ar­rested upon her ar­rival on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at the air­port.

“Thanks to close law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US, Yang de­cided to can­cel her

po­lit­i­cal asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion in the US and vol­un­tar­ily come back to make con­fes­sions,” said Liu Jian­chao, di­rec­tor of the CCDI’s In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Bureau.

He said judicial au­thor­i­ties in the two coun­tries will con­tinue to work to­gether to re­cover her ill-got­ten gains left in the US.

For­eign Min­istry spokes- man Geng Shuang called Yang’s re­turn “an im­por­tant achieve­ment of anti-graft law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US”.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate and give thanks for the as­sis­tance and co­op­er­a­tion of the US and rel­e­vant coun­tries.”

The US is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for cor­rupt Chi­nese of­fi­cials to flee to be­cause of the lack of bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaties and dif­fer­ences in laws, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity.

Yang ranked No 1 on China’s 100 most-wanted fugi­tive list re­leased by In­ter­pol in April of 2015. She is the 37th that has re­turned so far.

Ac­cord­ing to the CCDI, af­ter Yang’s es­cape, Chi­nese judicial au­thor­i­ties of­fi­cially re­quested their US coun­ter­parts to send her back and of­fered timely and solid ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing proof of em­bez­zle­ment and cross-bor­der money laun­der­ing. Then Yang was de­tained in the US.

In December 2014, Yang was listed as one of the five most-wanted cor­rupt fugi­tives that were the sub­ject of “ad­vanced ne­go­ti­a­tions” be­tween China and the US to speed up their re­turn.

The two coun­tries also set up a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion team to han­dle Yang’s case, which dis­patched per­son­nel to con­duct field in­ves­ti­ga­tions and col­lect ev­i­dence. Her il­licit as­sets were frozen and con­fis­cated, the CCDI said.

CCDI fig­ures show that be­tween April 2014 and Septem­ber 2016, China was able to se­cure the re­turn of 2,210 fugi­tives, in­clud­ing 363 cor­rupt of­fi­cials from more than 70 coun­tries and re­gions. The au­thor­i­ties also con­fis­cated 7.99 bil­lion yuan ($1.16 bil­lion) in il­le­gal as­sets.

YIN GANG / XIN­HUA

Yang Xi­uzhu, ac­cused of em­bez­zling $36.3 mil­lion, is es­corted from a plane af­ter ar­riv­ing in Bei­jing from the United States on Wed­nes­day.

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