Former Interpol chief pleads guilty to graft in Chinese court

Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei was accused of taking 14.5 million yuan (S$2.87 million) in bribes.
Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei was accused of taking 14.5 million yuan (S$2.87 million) in bribes.PHOTO: WEIBO

BEIJING • Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei pleaded guilty at a trial in China yesterday to accepting US$2.1 million (S$2.9 million) in bribes - a remarkable fall from grace for the former vice-minister of public security.

The Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate Court said Meng "showed repentance" during the hearing, which was the culmination of a dramatic case that shook the international police organisation and put a spotlight on China's opaque judicial system.

The verdict will be announced at a "select date or time", the court in northern China said in a statement, without specifying further.

Photos released by the Tianjin court showed Meng, who disappeared last year, sitting between two police officers in the courtroom, wearing a light brown jacket.

His hair had greyed and he appeared gaunt compared with photos from 2017.

Meng is among a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign, which critics say has served as a way to remove the leader's political enemies.

Over one million officials have been punished so far during Mr Xi's six-year tenure.

 
 
 

The court said that between 2005 and 2017, Meng used his status and positions, including as vice-minister of public security and marine police chief, to accumulate bribes equivalent to some 14.46 million yuan (S$2.9 million).

Meng vanished last September during a visit to China from France, where Interpol is based, and was later accused of accepting bribes and expelled from the Communist Party.

The scandal has "badly hurt China's image", said Mr Willy Lam, a Chinese politics expert at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Meng's wife Grace and two children are in France, where they were granted political asylum last month. Mrs Meng said in an e-mail to Agence France-Presse: "He (Meng) has a clear conscience towards his homeland... The international community will know the truth."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'Former Interpol chief pleads guilty to graft in Chinese court'. Print Edition | Subscribe