China sees tough task this year in tracking graft suspects abroad: Senior anti-corruption official

A man with a bicycle walks past a building covered in hundreds of posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, China, on March 26, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China faces a tough task in tracking down fugitives and recovering stolen assets from abroad, a senior graft-buster said, launching a campaign to catch corrupt officials who have fled overseas and recover their ill-gotten assets.

"The mission of opposing corruption to track down and get back officials and assets internationally is very hard," Mr Huang Shuxian, deputy head of the graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, was quoted as saying in a statement released by the body late on Thursday (April 22).

He gave no details.

China has been trying to get increased international cooperation to hunt down suspected corrupt officials who have fled overseas since President Xi Jinping began a war against deeply-rooted graft more than three years ago.

But Western countries have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people back to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of criminal suspects remains a problem, and also complaining China is unwilling to provide proof of their crimes.

Mr Huang was speaking at meeting to coordinate "Sky Net 2016", the follow-up to a campaign launched last year to recover suspected corrupt officials and their ill-gotten assets overseas.

Several different agencies are involved in the task.

The central bank will work with the Ministry of Public Security to go after money laundering via offshore companies and underground banks, the commission said.

The authorities will also clamp down harder on overseas trips made by officials using illegal documents, it added.

Mr Huang said efforts should be stepped up to ensure "corrupt elements" are brought back to face justice and have no place to hide.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.