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Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 09:31

China, US work to clear legal hurdles

By Zhang Yan

China will strengthen cooperation with the United States on major legal cases aimed at repatriating corrupt Chinese officials hiding there as well as confiscating their ill-gotten assets, a senior official of the Supreme People's Procuratorate said.

The remarks followed the news that one of China's most wanted fugitives is being prosecuted for immigration fraud and money-laundering by US law enforcement authorities.

China has "a priority list of alleged Chinese corrupt officials" believed to be at large in the US, and it has provided that list to US authorities to request their assistance, said Xu Jinhui, director under the SPP's anti-corruption and bribery bureau.

Chinese authorities will also start legal procedures to confiscate assets overseas, Xu said.

"Once in possession of solid evidence, we will initiate confiscation procedures according to the law," he said.

On Saturday, federal prosecutors in the US announced they have begun proceedings against Qiao Jianjun, a former officer of China Grain Reserves Corp who is suspected of fraud in obtaining his immigration visa when he entered the US.He also is suspected of transferring 300 million yuan ($48.4 million) to the US through money laundering.

Qiao's former wife was arrested by the FBI, and Qiao is being held. It is the first instance of a prosecution by US authorities of a suspected corrupt official from China.

In recent years, the US has become the most popular destination for corrupt officials to flee, transferring large amounts of illegal proceeds through various money-laundering schemes and underground banks. Since October, Chinese prosecutors have brought back 49 individuals suspected of duty-related crimes from 17 countries and regions, including the US, Canada and Australia.

Meanwhile, Chinese judicial authorities have seized 3 billion yuan ($483 million) of illgotten assets that were sent abroad.

Xu said that most of the those suspects are corrupt officials or senior directors of State-owned companies who took bribes or embezzled public funds.

Xu said that major progress was achieved by China and the US last year on fighting corruption. In October, the countries agreed to enhance cooperation and communication regarding cases under investigation, and on tracing, freezing, confiscating and returning illegal assets.

At a recent meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing in November, APEC members, including the US, Canada and Australia, decided to set up a regional law enforcement cooperation network known as Act-Net to snare corrupt officials.

zhangyan1@chinadaily.com.cn

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