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Corrupt officials face conviction abroad
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Corrupt officials who flee the country are more likely to be convicted overseas as the government seeks closer judicial cooperation with more nations, procuratorial officials and legal experts said Monday.

Tong Jianming, spokesman for the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), said the cooperation would focus on collecting evidence, tracking and extraditing suspects, and returning embezzled funds.

"The corrupt officials must face the full force of law wherever they flee."

He was talking to China Daily after a US federal jury convicted two former Guangdong bank officials for embezzlement and money laundering in the biggest case of its kind since the founding of New China in 1949.

On Aug 29, a US federal jury in Las Vegas convicted Xu Chaofan and Xu Guojun, the masterminds of the 2001 "Kaiping case", of defrauding the Bank of China of $485 million over 10 years. Their wives, too, were found guilty of the crime.

The Xus were charged with money laundering, transferring stolen property and passport fraud in the trial that lasted three months. The court will pass the sentence on Nov 24.

They are the first bank swindlers to face charges in the US, though Washington has repatriated a few corrupt officials.

Tong said Chinese authorities helped the US judicial department collect evidence against the Xus and their wives in China.

Welcoming their conviction, he said "the unprecedented case will serve as a great deterrent" to corrupt officials. "It has sent a clear signal (to corrupt officials) that the US is no longer a safe haven for them," he said.

Besides, on Aug 22 Canada announced that Deng Xinzhi, chief suspect in a $2.94-million swindling case, had been repatriated. Deng, a Beijing resident, and his accomplices cheated people out of $2.94 million in 2002 by impersonating as employees of China Life Insurance Company.

An increasing number of corrupt officials have fled the country after amassing huge amounts of money in recent times, with many of them seeking shelter in the West.

The US-based World Journal newspaper earlier reported that more than 1,000 corrupt Chinese officials had fled to the US, mostly to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

China seeks to sign extradition treaties with Western nations, including the US, and has managed to get more than 70 criminals back with the help of other countries since 1998.

Huang Feng, Beijing Normal University's professor of international criminal law, said the conviction of the two corrupt officials and their wives in the US was "a great victory for the Chinese anti-corruption campaign".

"It presents an alternative to extradition," he said. "Fleeing corrupt officials may not be repatriated, but they can still be convicted abroad."

Though China and the US have not signed an extradition treaty, they have intensified their anti-corruption efforts.

(China Daily September 9, 2008)

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