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China Asks Canada to Extradite Former Banker
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China's Ministry of Public Security has asked Canada to extradite a former Bank of China official who allegedly siphoned 1 billion yuan (US$128 million) from customers' accounts to Canada, the Beijing Daily reported Friday.

The report said Gao Shan, former head of a branch of the Bank of China in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, fled after sending the huge sum to Canada in 2005.

Gao Shan and another suspect, Li Dongzhe, are currently under the surveillance of Canadian police, the report said.

The report quoted unidentified Canadian sources as saying that the extradition of the two suspects would not be difficult.

Calls to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing were not immediately returned.

According to the report, the accountants of Northeast Expressway Co. Ltd. reported on Jan. 4, 2005, that more than 293 million yuan had disappeared from the company's account at the Bank of China.
Other customers also reported the disappearance of huge funds from their BOC accounts. The total sum exceeded 1 billion yuan.

On Jan. 13, 2005, Zhang Xiaoguang, former chairman of the board of Northeast Expressway Co. Ltd. was charged with embezzlement of public funds and is awaiting trial in China.

China has been active in seeking international cooperation in its fight against corruption. Chinese prosecutors have brought about 70 criminal suspects back to China from foreign countries since 1998.

The successful extradition from the United States of a Guangdong Province branch head of the Bank of China in 2004 was lauded as a powerful deterrent to corruption. Yu Zhendong, the banker, was convicted of misappropriating US$483 million before fleeing to the United States.

Sources from the Ministry of Public Security said 800 suspects at large abroad were wanted for economic crimes. They are accused of embezzling a total sum of almost 70 billion yuan (US$8.75 billion).
(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2007)

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