No "safe haven" abroad for Chinese fugitive officials: reports

(Xinhua) Updated : 2015-07-22

China's judicial authorities pledged in March to intensify its international manhunt for corrupt officials who had fled abroad in the vain hope of escaping justice.

In a report delivered by Procurator-General Cao Jianming on the work of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) in 2014, Cao said Chinese prosecutors have seized 749 fleeing corrupt suspects from both home and abroad last year.

Among all, 49 suspects were repatriated or were persuaded to turn themselves in from 17 countries including the United States and Canada, Cao said.

"We will actively advance efforts to have fugitive suspects repatriated and recover their illegal proceeds of corruption," the top prosecutor said when outlining the SPP's work priorities in 2015. "The corrupt shall never be allowed to get away with the law."

Chief Justice Zhou Qiang also said the Supreme People's Court (SPC) will actively participate in the repatriation of fugitive suspects and asset recovery.

"Foreign countries must not become a safe haven for the corrupt to escape justice," he said.

China is in the middle of an anti-corruption campaign targeting both "tigers" and low-level "flies," the terms assigned to different officials depending on rank and level of corruption.

The popular anti-graft crackdown has successfully narrowed the space for abuse of power at home, but meanwhile, considerable international cooperation in apprehending suspects was needed.

As of November 2014, China has concluded 39 extradition treaties and 52 criminal judicial assistance treaties with other countries, among which 29 extradition treaties and 46 criminal judicial assistance treaties are already in force.

A Fox Hunt 2014 operation was launched in July to "block the last route of retreat" for the corrupt officials and have those still at large repatriated.

Earlier reports said that by the end of last year, 680 fugitives suspected of committing economic crimes had been brought back to China in the six-month international operation.

Of those seized, 208 were implicated in economic crimes involving over 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars), and 117 had been fleeing for over a decade with one having been on the run for 22 years.

The country has also helped form a cross-border law enforcement network to strengthen transnational anti-corruption cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption, adopted at the APEC meeting in November last year, suggested that the APEC members eliminate corruption through extradition and judicial procedure, with more flexibility in recovering the proceeds of corruption.

According to Cao, the SPP will explore ways to confiscate illegal gains of fugitive corrupt officials in addition to the internal manhunt, so that "the corrupt could never profit economically from their illegitimate deeds," he said.