'No escape' for China's corrupt cadres, as the country's authorities widen scope of global manhunt to target accomplices and financing.
China is ramping up its international manhunt of fugitive corrupt officials with a new multi-agency operation, code-named Skynet, aimed at restricting their financial channels.Operation Skynet will go further than last year's international manhunt led by national police, Operation Foxhunt, by coordinating various government departments in a multi-pronged attack on both the fugitives and those who help them.Underground banks and offshore companies that enable money laundering as well as people who forge licences, passports and other documents are among the key targets.
The operation's launch follows a recent meeting of the Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery Office of the Communist Party's central anti-graft coordination group.
Skynet will entail several projects and involve at least four ministries: The Central Organisation Department, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People's Bank of China, according to a statement on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's website.
The Ministry of Public Security will continue to hunt officials and other key fugitives who have fled overseas, while the national police will work with the People's Bank of China to crack down on underground banks and offshore companies used for transferring illicit financial assets.
Both departments will also target those who assist others in illegally transferring money abroad.Huang Shuxian, a deputy chief of the CCDI and the Minister of Supervision, said President Xi Jinping had ordered anti-graft officials to step up their overseas manhunt and to prevent fugitives from sheltering in "criminal havens".Anti-corruption expert Zhuang Deshui said Operation Skynet would cut off fugitives' financial channels."Those underground banks and offshore companies are the accomplices of fugitive corrupt officials," said Zhuang.
The ministry will also work with the party's Organisation Department, which manages the party's personnel affairs, to keep strict checks on cadres' private passports and other immigration documents. If fake papers, or any other transgressions, are discovered both the cadres and those who aided them will face punishment.
"Like the Chinese idiom says, 'the sky may look thin and sparse, but it's vast and won't let you escape'," said Zhuang.
Last year, China seized more than 500 fugitives and more than three billion yuan (HK$3.8 billion), according to the CCDI.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the US State Department declined to comment on reports that Beijing had provided a "priority" list of Chinese officials suspected of fleeing to the US, Reuters reported.
However, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the department, said China had agreed to supply "more evidence regarding their priority fugitive cases, so that we can increase our focus on the location and prosecution or removal of these fugitives"."We continue to encourage China to provide strong evidence and intelligence to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can properly investigate and prosecute cases related to the alleged corruption," Psaki said.
Mar 8, 20170
Chinese fugitive officials have nowhere to hide as China ramps up overseas hunt of fugitive officials.
By Lin Xuedan from People’s Daily/News
Another Chinese corruption suspect who had fled overseas returned to China to turn herself in recently, another victory after China ramped up its international manhunt of fugitive corrupt officials.
Wang Chengjian, a former shipping finance executive in Shanghai, fled to the US in May 2005 after being accused of joint embezzlement.She was number 67 of China’s 100 most-wanted fugitives listed in an Interpol “red notice” and the 38th to return since the country launched its “Sky Net” campaign in April 2015.
By the end of 2016, 2,566 fugitives had been extradited or repatriated from over 90 countries and regions, with assets worth about 8.6 billion yuan ($1.25 billion) recovered.
The latest return of Wang is inseparable from the efforts made by the Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery Office of the Central Anti-Corruption Coordination Group, a disciplinary watchdog established in 2014.
The “Sky Net” campaign was launched by the office in March 2015 to reinforce the overseas hunt for fugitive officials. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) started another campaign code-named “Fox Hunt” to capture suspected economic criminals.
The ministry has also established the household registration system to investigate dual citizenship in a bid to crack down on corruption of “naked officials.”
So far, China has inked extradition treaties with 48 countries including France, Spain and Italy, and engaged in 15 multilateral anti-graft mechanisms including the UN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Group of Twenty (G20) and the BRICS grouping.China chaired the Anti-Corruption Working Group of the G20 in 2016, and a series of significant achievements have been accomplished under China’s leadership.While continuing the “Sky Net” campaign in 2017, China will improve its mechanisms and tighten the management, leaving corrupt officials nowhere to hide or flee.