China is to set up a database of corrupt officials who have fled overseas, the Ministry of Public Security said on Dec 2.
The move comes as more than 150 economic fugitives turned themselves in ahead of the Dec 1 deadline under the “Fox Hunt 2014” campaign, which would grant lenient punishment, the ministry said.
The campaign, launched by the ministry in July, is aimed at catching economic fugitives abroad and confiscating their ill-gotten gains.
On Oct 10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Supreme People’s Court issued a joint statement urging economic fugitives to return to China and confess to their crimes.
The statement said that those who surrendered and returned to China voluntarily before Dec 1 would receive lighter punishments.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, as of Nov 30, Chinese police had brought back 335 suspected economic fugitives to stand trial. They captured 181 of them, and 154 turned themselves in. Police also confiscated illegal assets.
In recent years, corrupt Chinese officials have fled to countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and some Southeast Asian and European nations to avoid punishment.
They have transferred a host of illicitly acquired assets abroad, the ministry said. It added that by the end of last year, more than 150 corrupt officials were still at large in the US, with billions of yuan sent illegally to that country through money laundering and underground banks.
“A number of officials have been sent to prosecuting departments to face trial,” said Liu Dong, deputy director of the ministry’s Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau.
He said courts will also decide how assets seized in the cases should be handled after the suspects are dealt with.
In recent days, China has strengthened judicial cooperation with overseas countries to capture fugitives and recover their gains.
In November, President Xi Jinping emphasized at international seminars he attended the need to hunt fugitives and confiscate their assets.
At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing at the start of last month, leaders of APEC economies agreed to set up a law enforcement cooperation network to combat corrupt officials.
At the close of their summit in Brisbane, Australia, last month, leaders of G20 economies passed the 2015-16 G20 Anti-corruption Action Plan and committed themselves to increasing cooperation and setting up networks to deny corrupt officials safe havens.
China’s top anti-graft watchdog and judicial authorities are preparing to set up a database to trace corrupt officials who flee abroad.
“The database will be publicized on its official website to receive reports from the public at home and abroad,” said Huang Shuxian, deputy head of the Communist Party of China Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission.
Huang said China will also speed up negotiations and sign treaties with other countries, including bilateral extradition treaties or agreements on sharing illegal assets that are confiscated.
Huang Feng, a law professor at Beijing Normal University, said the anti-graft declaration agreed by the APEC and G20 leaders is conducive to “building a communication platform and setting up a mechanism among the members to enhance judicial cooperation on hunting fugitives and recovering their assets.”
He added that China will also enhance judicial cooperation with countries such as the US, Canada and Australia with the aim of signing extradition treaties, improving judicial assistance and combating money-laundering.