Authorities vow to track down, freeze $500 million of ill-gotten assets
Chinese authorities will cooperate with Indonesia to confiscate more than $500 million of ill-gotten assets illegally transferred to China by corrupt Indonesian banking officials.
Under the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between China and Indonesia that took effect in 2006, the Ministry of Justice will “give support to the Indonesian judicial authorities in the areas of financial intelligence exchanges and the collection of evidence,” said Zhang Sujun, vice-minister of justice.
After receiving their formal documents to request judicial assistance, Chinese judicial authorities will conduct further investigations and offer Indonesian officials evidence to help them recover the illegal proceeds, he said.
“Once solid evidence identifies assets as dirty money, we will seize the funds and freeze the accounts,” said Zhang Xiaoming, deputy-director of China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center at the People’s Bank of China.
Zhang Sujun’s remarks came in response to a request for judicial assistance made by Yasonna H. Laoly, minister of the Indonesian Ministry of Laws and Human Rights, during the 54th Annual Session of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, held in Beijing from April 13 to April 16.
The case dates to 2008, when the global financial crisis gripped Asian countries, and the Indonesian government asked the Indonesian Bank to invest $565 million in the Indonesian Century Bank to avoid bankruptcy and the collapse of its banking system.
According to Indonesian judicial authorities, senior managers of the Indonesian Bank allegedly abused their power to help others embezzle the assets and transfer the proceeds to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland through money laundering.
In December 2013, Boediono, vice-president of Indonesia and at the time the chairman of the Indonesian Bank, was impeached by members of the Indonesian Congress on suspicion of graft.
“Corruption, crime and money laundering have posed serious threats to economic development and social stability,” Laoly said, adding that Indonesia will strengthen judicial cooperation with China to recover the assets.
According to Zhang Xiaoming, the anti-money-laundering center will monitor suspicious financial transactions coming in and going out of China to fight corruption.
China has signed bilateral judicial assistance agreements on criminal matters with 52 countries and regions, including the US, Canada, Japan and France, and 46 of them have officially taken effect.
China’s authorities will initiate a nationwide campaign to prevent corrupt officials from illegally transferring their ill-gotten assets overseas through offshore companies and underground banks, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on April 16.
The authorities include the CCDI, the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Supreme People’s Court and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.
In recent years, the US, Canada and other Western countries have become popular destinations for fleeing corrupt officials who transfer thousands of millions of yuan through money laundering, said a senior official at the Ministry of Public Security who declined to reveal his name.
According to the CCDI, law enforcement officers will focus on offshore companies and underground banks to prevent them assisting Chinese suspects in the transfer of funds to their foreign bank accounts.