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China working to retrieve corrupt officials' foreign assets

(Xinhua)

08:15, June 28, 2012

DALIAN, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China will strengthen the measures it uses to recover corrupt officials' illicit assets transferred abroad and demand other countries freeze such assets to cut off the officials' means for living overseas, a member of the supreme procuratorate told Xinhua on Wednesday.

The official, from the anti-corruption bureau of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, made the remark on the sidelines of the fourth seminar of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, which began in Dalian on Tuesday and is scheduled to end on Thursday.

The official, who wished not to be named, said China has prevented a large amount of illicit assets from being transferred abroad by coordinating with other countries and regions.

However, there is an obstacle to the work, as procuratorates can only seal, freeze or seize illicit assets involving crimes committed while in public duty for a limited period time, instead of permanently confiscating them, if the suspects are still at large or have escaped custody.

The official said the work will be fully carried out after the amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013, adding that procuratorates will improve measures to trace illicit money in the future, and make breakthrough in major cases.

The amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law, which was endorsed in March at the fifth session of the 11th National People's Congress, stipulates that procuratorates can submit to the courts to confiscate the illicit assets of officials suspected of corruption if the suspects are missing or dead.

Procuratorates can also apply to the courts to confiscate illicit assets overseas. After making a ruling of confiscation, the courts can require other countries to recognize and implement China's judgement.

The official said the major destination countries for China's runaway corrupt officials, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, all recognize the criminal ruling of confiscation. The practice has also been endorsed by the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The official added the illicit assets are the material bases that allow suspected corrupt officials to live abroad.

"If the material bases can be destroyed, we can effectively prevent suspects from escaping abroad, suppress their living space overseas, and compel them to return home for surrender," said the official.

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