Money laundering suspect fined $42m in NZ

WELLINGTON • New Zealand police say they have reached a deal with a China-born businessman for him to pay a record NZ$42 million (S$41.5 million) fine to settle legal action following an investigation with China into money laundering.

Mr William Yan, a New Zealand citizen, is accused of embezzlement and is on China's most-wanted list of international fugitives.

His assets were seized by New Zealand courts two years ago while police investigated whether they were the proceeds of money laundering in China.

The settlement announced yesterday means that Mr Yan avoids any criminal or civil responsibility, according to a police statement.

Detective Inspector Paul Hampton, manager of NZ Police's asset recovery and financial group crime, said the proceeds of the fine would be shared between the New Zealand and Chinese governments.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing did not respond immediately to a request for comment on whether China would seek his extradition.

The cooperation between the two countries comes as China seeks to drum up Western help to track down corruption suspects who have fled overseas.

But many Western nations have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of suspects is a concern.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has said an extradition treaty is "possible".

He has also said that up to 60 Chinese corruption suspects were in New Zealand.

China's first extradition request to New Zealand last year was agreed to by the government.

However, a New Zealand court told the justice minister in July to review the decision to extradite Kyung Yup Kim, a South Korea- born resident accused of murder, because of concerns that he might not be treated fairly.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Money laundering suspect fined $42m in NZ'. Print Edition | Subscribe