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Australia to help in returning fugitives

Updated: 2014-10-21 07:48
By Zhang Yan (China Daily)

Beijing and Canberra to cooperate on extradition of suspected corrupt officials

Police in Australia and China are to cooperate on the extradition of Chinese economic fugitives, including many corrupt officials, the Ministry of Public Security said on Monday.

"In recent years, Chinese and Australian police have strengthened judicial cooperation in sharing intelligence and case investigations," a ministry official, who declined to give his name, told China Daily.

"We will boost cooperation with our Australian counterparts in the hunt for corrupt officials who flee to Australia, and we will seize their illegally transferred assets," he said.

The joint operation will make its first confiscation of assets in Australia in coming weeks, The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Bruce Hill, manager of Australian Federal Police operations in Asia, as saying.

The unnamed official said cooperation with Australia is good news for China.

Beijing faces difficulties over the return of fugitives due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties, and political and legal problems with some countries, such as the United States, Canada and Australia, the official said.

"Judicial authorities in those countries have been reluctant to hand over Chinese fugitives because of their concerns over unfair prosecutions and misunderstandings about China's judicial system and procedures," he said.

According to the ministry, in recent years some corrupt Chinese officials have fled to the US, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian countries, transferring assets worth many billions of dollars overseas through money laundering and underground banks.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Australia and China have agreed on a priority list of alleged economic fugitives. They will conduct joint actions within weeks.

It said many of the suspects are naturalized Australian citizens. They have transferred their illegal assets under the guise of overseas businesses investments or through money laundering.

The priority list agreed between the two countries was drawn up from a broader list of fewer than 100 people, Hill told the newspaper, adding that assets worth "many hundreds of millions of dollars" have been transferred to Australia illegally by such fugitives.

In July, Chinese police launched a six-month campaign called Fox Hunt to target economic fugitives, especially corrupt officials, who have fled abroad with their ill-gotten gains.

The initiative is considered a major step in President Xi Jinping's intensified crackdown on corruption.

To date, Chinese police have gained extradition or persuaded 155 economic fugitives to return to face trial. They include many alleged corrupt officials who fled to more than 40 countries and regions, including the US, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian nations, according to the ministry's economic investigation department.

Last week, Australia took steps to improve a visa proposal aimed at attracting investment from wealthy Chinese, including speeding up approvals and expanding investment channels.

Dai Peng, director of the Criminal Investigation Department at People's Public Security University of China said, "Some foreign countries should drop their prejudice toward China's political and judicial system. They should enhance bilateral judicial cooperation on intelligence sharing and conducting joint operations."

He said other nations should take effective measures to help Chinese police to capture and win the extradition of economic fugitives and recover their illegal assets.


(China Daily 10/21/2014 page1)

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