China Seized 7,831 Fugitives Abroad and Recouped $2.8 Billion Since 2014
China seized 7,831 fugitives over the past 6½ years and recouped losses of 19.7 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) under a government campaign to pursue corrupt officials and dodgy business people who fled abroad, according to a report by the National Supervisory Commission (NSC), the top government anti-graft agency.
The fugitives, who allegedly committed economic or corruption crimes, were either repatriated under cross-border law enforcement partnerships or voluntarily returned from more than 120 of the world’s nearly 200 countries and regions, the commission said in its first work report submitted Monday to the national legislature.
The NSC report for the first time the detailed results of China’s international operations to hunt down wanted fugitives between 2014 and June 2020.
Established in 2018 as part of a sweeping government overhaul, the commission combined the previous Ministry of Supervision and the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention and is at the same level as the country’s Supreme Court and the top prosecutor’s office.
The NSC works closely with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Communist Party’s top graft-fighting organization, and is viewed as a complement to the anti-corruption work done by the CCDI. As a party organ, the CCDI encountered difficulties in expanding corruption crackdowns to a broader level.
According to the report, about half of the seized fugitives — or 3,848 — were captured after the establishment of the NSC. Among the 7,831 returned individuals, 2,075 were party members and government employees, and 348 were listed on Interpol’s “red notice,” an international arrest warrant. Of the top 100 most-wanted corruption suspects Beijing asked Interpol to help apprehend, 60 have been captured, according to the report.
Those from the most-wanted list include Xu Chaofan, former head of the Kaiping sub-branch of the Bank of China (BOC) in Guangdong province, who returned to China in July 2018 after 17 years hiding in the U.S. under a cooperation arrangement between the two countries.
Yang Xiuzhu, a former Zhejiang provincial government official who oversaw urban development and was at the top of the most-wanted list, surrendered in 2016 after spending 13 years on the run across the world.
Huang Haiyong, a Shenzhen businessman accused of smuggling and tax evasion, was repatriated from Peru in 2016 after eight years of negotiations and legal procedures between the two countries. Huang fled China in 1998.
Yang Xiaodu, director of the NSC, said the rising number of returned fugitives and recouped assets reflect improving law enforcement capability of China’s graft busters through international operations such as Sky Net.
China launched the Sky Net initiative in 2015 targeting fugitives abroad. The operation captured 7,242 people and recovered 18.5 billion yuan of assets by the end of 2019, the CCDI said in a recent statement. Since 2017, China has published detailed information on some of the most-wanted officials to aid in the search for them.
The number of dirty officials and executives who fled China has dropped dramatically over the past few years, according to Yang. In 2019, only four suspects made their way out of China, compared with 101 in 2014.
Contact reporter Han Wei (firstname.lastname@example.org) and editor Bob Simison (email@example.com)
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