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Over 60,000 Economic Crimes Cracked in 2005
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China's police busted more than 60,000 cases of economic crime last year, a senior police officer said in Beijing on Tuesday.


Chinese police arrested more than 50,000 suspects and retrieved 14.3 billion yuan (US$1.79 billion) in funds, said Gao Feng, deputy director of the economic crime investigation department of the Ministry of Public Security.


Gao told a press conference, jointly held by the ministry and the National Audit Office, that last year police around China also worked with the supervisory and procuratorial departments to crack down on a number of bribery and corruption cases, efforts which helped to maintain market order.


In addition, Chinese audit offices nationwide transferred 2,033 cases involving 3,150 suspects to judicial organs between 2003 and 2005.


Most of the cases are related to finance and trade, accounting for over 86 percent of cases cracked by auditors.


Meanwhile, foreign courts approved the extraditions to China of 53 suspects charged with economic crimes last year and, more significant, the return of alleged smuggler Lai Changxing from Canada is imminent.


"Any criminal suspects who flee abroad in the hope of evading punishment will be brought to justice," said Wu Heping, a ministry spokesman. "It's just a matter of time."


Wu declined to answer questions on Lai's anticipated deportation, but he promised to "inform the media on related developments soon".


Lai is accused of leading the biggest smuggling operation uncovered in China since 1949. He reportedly worked in cahoots with corrupt officials in Xiamen City. The case involved goods worth US$10 billion.


Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999, where he has since been trying to gain refugee status.


Chinese police have worked hard to strengthen cooperation with foreign counterparts to tackle cases where criminal suspects flee abroad, and these efforts "have paid off", Gao said.


"About 800 suspects wanted in connection with economic crimes are residing in foreign countries," Gao said. "In the last two years, more than 320 have been repatriated in connection with cases involving nearly 70 billion yuan (US$875 million) worth of property and funds."


The US also extradited a Chinese criminal suspect as a result of judicial cooperation.


Yu Zhendong, former head of a Bank of China branch Kaiping City, fled to the US before being tried in connection with the disappearance of US$82.5 million from the bank. Yu was extradited to China in 2004 after the Chinese government agreed he would not be executed. Earlier this year, a court in the southern province of Guangdong sentenced Yu to 12 years in prison for embezzlement.


Chinese police are also in negotiations with their Dutch counterparts for the return of Yang Xiuzhu, a former official from east China's Zhejiang Province, who has been charged with accepting bribes.


(Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2006)


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