BEIJING — An economic fraud suspect was returned to China under police escort on Feb 3 after 10 years on the run in Italy, marking the first extradition of its kind from a European country.
The suspect, surnamed Zhang, is alleged to have stolen more than 1.4 million yuan ($223,700) from clients while she worked for a securities company in north China’s Hebei province between Jan 2000 and Jan 2005, according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Security.
Zhang escaped to Italy in Oct 2005. The ministry released an international alert via Interpol and began to arrange law enforcement cooperation with Italy over her case.
The fugitive was arrested by Italian police in Oct 2014, and the country officially agreed her extradition on Jan 16, 2015.
“The extradition showcases the determination of Chinese and Italian law enforcement departments,” the statement said.
Zhang’s case is seen as a key step in China’s hunt for economic fugitives, including many officials suspected of graft, as the country looks to enlist help from more countries.
The ministry revealed that “a series of criminal fugitives will be handed over by related countries to the Chinese police in the near future”.
It said it has established law enforcement cooperation with 189 countries, with 49 police liaison officers sent to 27 countries.
Last year, “Fox Hunt 2014”, the operation targeting suspects in economic crimes hiding overseas, saw 680 such offenders brought to task.
The ministry vowed to deepen the cooperation between Chinese police and foreign law enforcement agencies and “try its best to seize suspects at large through various channels” such as repatriation, extradition and persuasion.