Operation Sky Net: China's anti-graft campaign against those who fled overseas

Intensifying its overseas hunt for corrupt officials, China has taken the unprecedented step of releasing a list of 100 fugitives, their personal details and the countries they might be hiding in.

The hunt is part of a new initiative called Operation Sky Net launched this month.

Who are these 100 fugitives?

The fugitives include 77 men and 23 women. About 90 per cent of them are corrupt officials and they are accused of offences including embezzlement, abuse of power, corruption and bribery. They have been issued with "red notice" arrest warrants by Interpol's China office.

Chinese authorities say the fugitives could be in countries like the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Mr Fu Kui, who heads the Communist Party anti-graft commission's international cooperation department, has said the list is just a fraction of the total number of Chinese fugitives and authorities will release more names later and on a regular basis.

Who may be in Singapore?

Li Huabo, 54: Li was a Jiangxi official who fled China in 2011. The Singapore permanent resident was sentenced in the city state in 2013 to 15 months' jail for receiving US$182,723 (S$246,800) in his Singapore bank account, said to have been stolen from the Chinese government. But Beijing maintains he siphoned off $19 million in total over five years when he was a finance bureau officer in Poyang county in Jiangxi province.

Liu Changming, 49: The party boss of Bank of Communications (Guangzhou) allegedly helped approve 9.8 billion yuan of illegal loans (S$2.1 billion). 

Huang Shuimu, 52: The chairman of property company Tiancheng Group in Fujian's Longyan city vanished in May last year. He is accused of pocketing more than one billion yuan in private loans. China's state newspaper People's Daily listed him as one of the country's "Top 10 Runaway Rich Business People."

Liang Jinwen, 61: The manager of CAC Auto Parts Brake Co in Guangdong's Zhuhai city fled China in 1997. He reportedly obtained at least US$7.95 million of letters of credit and guarantees in the name of his company, a joint-venture that Asimco set up in 1995 with Chinese partner Zhuhai China & Canton Auto Parts Industry Co. The credit was obtained from state-run Guangdong Development Bank and the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China.

Shi Yang, 46: Shi, a Liaoning propaganda official, is accused of corruption. An arrest warrant for him was issued in 2014.

Han Jianpeng, 42: The legal representative of an investment firm in Hebei province is accused of taking bribes. An arrest warrant was issued in 2014.

What is Operation Sky Net?

The initiative targets corrupt officials who have fled overseas and aims to recover their dirty assets. The team includes officials from the corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme Prosecutor, the Organisation Department and the People's Bank of China.

The Ministry of Public Security focuses on officials who have fled abroad, while the central bank goes after offshore companies and underground banks that transfer assets abroad. The Organisation Department, a powerful body that oversees personnel decisions, monitors trips by officials abroad.

The corruption watchdog said 500 suspects were repatriated to China last year, along with more than 3 billion yuan (S$651 million).

Chinese officials have said more than 150 "economic fugitives", many of them corrupt officials, are in the US. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries and Western governments have long been reluctant to hand over suspects to China because of a lack of transparency and due process in the judicial system.

Chinese anti-graft investigators say they hope that by releasing details of the fugitives, this could help step up international anti-graft cooperation.

SOURCE: CHINA DAILY, BUSINESS INSIDER, REUTERS, SINA.COM, BLOOMBERG, THE STRAITS TIMES ARCHIVES