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Ex-top fugitive Lai confesses to smuggling

By Liang Yiwen (Shanghai Daily)

09:11, December 31, 2011

Chinese fugitive Lai Changxing listens to questions from reporters in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this April 5, 2007 file picture. (China Daily/Agencies)

ALLEGED smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing, once the No. 1 fugitive at the center of China's biggest corruption scandal, has confessed to trafficking and bribery charges and his case has been handed over for prosecution, the customs department and prosecutors in southeastern Fujian Province announced yesterday.

Lai, 53, became China's most-wanted man after he fled to Canada in 1999 and fought extradition for 12 years until he was deported in July. After he was extradited to China, he was arrested and investigated for smuggling and bribery.

Thirty-one criminal suspects believed to be connected to Lai's alleged smuggling operation have been sent back to China from overseas since 2001, figures from the country's General Administration of Customs show.

Lai is the chief suspect in a multibillion-dollar smuggling operation that dates to the 1990s in Xiamen, Fujian Province. He is accused of bribing local officials there to avoid paying taxes and duties on items shipped into the southeastern coastal province.

Both Lai and the other major suspects involved have confessed to the charges, the authorities said yesterday.

The smuggling largely took place between 1996 and 1999 with Lai and his accomplices importing crude oil, vehicles and cigarettes. The smuggling operation "seriously disrupted China's economic order and created huge economic losses for the nation," the Ministry of Public Security said.

Authorities set up a special group to investigate Lai's case in April 1999. Lai fled to Canada with his family that year and claimed refugee status, saying the allegations against him were "politically motivated." Canada rejected his refugee claim, and years of legal wrangling ensued.

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ASEAN at 2011-12-31220.255.1.*
All corrupted officials should be persecuted and punished severely. Officials are there to serve the interest of the greater population. No two ways about it.
  

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