|China Focus: China exposes whereabouts of corruption fugitives, urges surrender|
Chinese authorities Thursday released information on 22 corruption suspects who have fled overseas, including their possible current whereabouts.
The information includes the name, gender, ID card number, former title, suspected crime, date of arrival in the current country and travel document number of each suspect, according to a statement from an office in charge of fugitive repatriation and asset recovery under the Central Anti-corruption Coordination Group.
The whereabouts are as specific as the streets and communities where the fugitives are believed to live.
Of the 22, 10 are thought to be in the United States, five in Canada, four in New Zealand, and one each in Australia, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the United Kingdom.
Their ages range from 33 to 75 years old. The first to flee left in 1998, according to a report posted on the website of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).
This is the first time China's anti-graft authorities have issued a notice giving such specific information about overseas fugitives, said Gao Bo, a CCDI official. "All 22 suspects are on the '100 most-wanted' Interpol red notice. Issuing the notice means their last hope to escape will be lost."
In the case of Wang Liming, former head of the Hainan branch of the Bank of China, who was suspected of malpractice, the possible location of his current residence is "Voltaire Drive, Riverside, Los Angles, California, USA," according to the notice.
He allegedly took advantage of his position to collude with others and illegally issue letters of credit backed with no real trading or guarantees, resulting in huge losses of state assets.
In a separate case, Cheng Muyang, former chairman of Hong Kong Jiadali Investment Co., Ltd. and former manager of the Beijing subsidiary of Beifang International Advertisement Company, was suspected of embezzlement and concealment of illegal gains. He is believed to be living in "Oak Ridge Community, Vancouver, Canada," according to the notice.
Compared with other fugitives on the Interpol red notice, capturing these 22 is more difficult, said Liu Jianchao, deputy director of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention.
"Some cases are at a crucial stage for breaking them, and we need to put more pressure on the suspects," said Liu.
As of March 31, 365 suspects in duty-related crimes such as embezzlement and bribery were known to be at large overseas and another 581 were unaccounted for, the statement said.
Some of the fugitives have changed their identities since the Interpol red notice was released. Some are struggling to decide whether to turn themselves in, while others continue to evade authorities, said the statement.
The information released was based on tips from members of the public and cooperation with other authorities. When receiving further tips, the watchdog guarantees to protect informers' rights and interests. Further information on more fugitives will be released at an appropriate time, the statement continued.
"We hope overseas Chinese, foreign citizens of Chinese origin and international friends will help identify these fugitives... and give them no place to hide," said the statement.
It said the public can report relevant information to the Chinese authorities via the website http://www.12388.gov.cn/ztzz/.
Countries involved should abide by international conventions and cooperate in law enforcement. They should support China's anti-corruption drive by not sheltering fugitives nor allowing them to transfer illegally attained assets, the statement said.
"China respects the laws of other countries and is ready to cooperate with them. We urge specific countries not to pursue their own economic interests by issuing passports and visas through investment immigration schemes when applicants are suspected of corruption," it said. "Passports and visas that have already been issued should be revoked as soon as possible."
The statement also offered leniency for fugitives who voluntarily return to China to surrender and confess their crimes.
By reaching out to international society, the notice clearly demonstrates China's refusal to tolerate corruption and shows willingness to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and judiciaries overseas.
By releasing specific information, authorities expect increased support from media, police and from local residents who may be unaware of the suspects' backgrounds, said Wang Wenhua, deputy dean of the law school at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
By pursuing corrupt officials, from high-ranking "tigers" to low-level "flies," within China and through operations such as "Sky Net" and "Fox Hunt" overseas, the campaign has drawn the net ever tighter in the past five years and there is now almost no chance of escape, according to the statement.
As of March 31, China had captured 2,873 fugitives from more than 90 countries and regions and recovered 8.99 billion yuan (130 million U.S. dollars), of which 476 were former officials and about 40 were on the Interpol red notice list.
In a report posted Tuesday on its website, the CCDI said 19 fugitive suspects fled China last year, compared with 31 in 2015 and 101 in 2014.
The sharp decrease in numbers indicates that important progress has been made to return corrupt fugitives and their illicit gains from overseas, the report said.