China's most-wanted fugitive jailed 8 years for corruption

The Chinese authorities arrested Yang Xiuzhu upon her arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport in November last year.
The Chinese authorities arrested Yang Xiuzhu upon her arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport in November last year.PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • A Chinese court yesterday jailed the country's most-wanted fugitive for eight years for graft and for taking bribes, state media said.

Yang Xiuzhu, a former deputy mayor of Wenzhou in the booming eastern province of Zhejiang, gave herself up to the Chinese authorities late last year when she returned from the United States, after spending 13 years in hiding.

China ranked Yang at No. 1 in a 2015 list of its 100 most-wanted graft suspects who were targeted with Interpol red notices. Many on the list had fled to the US, Canada or Australia. Some 48 have since returned to China.

Yang's prison sentence and a fine of 800,000 yuan (S$164,000) was announced by the People's Intermediate Court in Hangzhou, the official Xinhua news agency said on social media.

The court gave Yang a reduced sentence as she had expressed regret, pleaded guilty and actively returned her illegal gains, as well as returned to China, Xinhua reported.

In less than three years in her position at the construction bureau, Yang embezzled nearly 20 million yuan in public funds and accepted over 7 million yuan in gifts. Just under 27 million yuan of that amount has been recovered, the court said.

President Xi Jinping's war on graft has spread beyond China's borders, with overseas searches - dubbed Operation Fox Hunt and Sky Net - hunting down officials and business executives who have fled overseas with their assets.

Wary that suspects might not get a fair trial and that the accusations may be politically motivated, some developed nations have been hesitant to comply with Beijing's requests to return people to China.

Yang said in 2015 that she was innocent and called the most-wanted list a political document targeting enemies of the current regime, rather than a roster of criminals.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'China's most-wanted fugitive jailed 8 years for corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe