New database to track corrupt China officials who fled overseas

Chinese paramilitary policemen listen to a lecture outside their barracks in Beijing on Oct 29, 2014. China is to set up a database to trace corrupt officials who have fled overseas, the authorities have announced. -- PHOTO: AFP
Chinese paramilitary policemen listen to a lecture outside their barracks in Beijing on Oct 29, 2014. China is to set up a database to trace corrupt officials who have fled overseas, the authorities have announced. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (China Daily/Asia News Network) - China is to set up a database to trace corrupt officials who have fled overseas, the authorities has announced.

The database will be jointly created by the Communist Party's top anti-graft watchdog and judicial authorities, and will serve to encourage the public to provide tips on the officials' whereabouts.

"The database will be publicised on its official website to receive reports from the public at home and abroad," said Huang Shuxian, deputy head of the Communist Party's Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission.

Huang said China will also speed up negotiations and sign treaties with other countries, including bilateral extradition treaties or agreements on sharing illegal assets that are confiscated.

The database initiative move comes as more than 150 economic fugitives turned themselves in ahead of the Dec 1 deadline under the "Fox Hunt 2014" campaign, which promises less severe punishment, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.

The campaign, launched by the ministry in July, is aimed at catching economic fugitives abroad and confiscating their ill-gotten gains.

On Oct 10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Supreme People's Court issued a joint statement urging economic fugitives to return to China and confess to their crimes.

The statement said that those who surrendered and returned to China voluntarily before Dec 1 would receive lighter punishments.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, as of Sunday (Oct 30), 181 suspected corrupt fugitive had been arrested by police, and another 154 had turned themselves in. Police also confiscated illegal assets.

In recent years, corrupt Chinese officials have fled to countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian and European nations to avoid punishment.

They have transferred a host of illicitly acquired assets abroad, the ministry said. It added that by the end of last year, more than 150 corrupt officials were still at large in the US, with billions of yuan sent illegally to that country through money laundering and underground banks.

"A number of officials have been sent to prosecuting departments to face trial," said Liu Dong, deputy director of the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau.

He said courts would also decide how assets seized in the cases should be handled after the suspects were dealt with.

In recent days, China has strengthened judicial cooperation with overseas countries to capture fugitives and recover their gains.

The drive is part of the anti-graft campaign pushed by President Xi Jinping since he took office in 2012. Last month Xi renewed his call for the authorities to bring fugitive corrupt officials to justice.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Beijing last month, leaders of the 21 Apec economies agreed to set up a cooperation network to crack down on corrupt officials.

Also in November, leaders of the Group of 20 economies committed themselves to increasing cooperation in order to deny corrupt officials safe havens.