China captures more than 2,500 fugitives who fled overseas

BEIJING • China has captured 2,566 fugitives who had fled to more than 90 countries and regions and recovered 8.6 billion yuan (S$1.75 billion) of illicit funds from 2014 to 2016.

Among them, 1,283 turned themselves in or were persuaded to return to China, Xinhua reported yesterday, citing a statement issued by the office in charge of pursuing fugitives under the central anti-graft coordination group.

A total of 410 were members of the Communist Party or official staff.

So far, 39 suspects of China's 100 most-wanted have returned, according to the Xinhua report.

As part of President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption campaign "Sky Net", China published a list of 100 most-wanted fugitives in 2015, all subject to Interpol red notice arrest warrants.

According to another statement by the Ministry of Public Security yesterday, 951 suspects of white-collar crimes were netted from 72 countries and regions last year. The arrests were made as part of the "Fox hunt", a key component of the "Sky Net".

The statement added that 380 underground banks and money laundering cases have been cracked by police nationwide with help from the People's Bank of China. More than 500 underground banks have been closed.

The "Sky Net" appears to have effectively stopped corrupt officials from fleeing overseas, with the number of those on the run abroad dropping significantly from 101 in 2014 to 19 last year.

While most fugitives have fled to developed countries, including Canada, the United States and Australia, a few have taken refuge in Africa.

Among the arrested is Yang Xingfu, a retired Chinese tax official from Jiangsu province.

He was returned to China from Zimbabwe less than four months after he fled a corruption probe and hid in the southern African country.

Yang, who retired as the deputy head of the Local Taxation Bureau of Nantong City in 2015, flew to Zimbabwe last December, fearing a graft investigation.

"The operation shows that there is no haven for corrupt officials abroad," said Mr Yao Aishan, deputy head of the Jiangsu provincial procuratorate's anti-corruption bureau, referring to the case of Yang.

"They won't escape punishment by the law, no matter where they flee."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'China captures more than 2,500 fugitives who fled overseas'. Print Edition | Subscribe