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Efforts stepped up to nab escaped corrupt officials

By Wen Ya (Global Times)

08:16, June 29, 2012

Anti-graft officials are to strengthen efforts to recover corrupt officials' illicit assets transferred overseas and have urged foreign governments to freeze such assets.

Some outlawed former officials have been on the run overseas for more than 25 years, according to an official with the anti-corruption bureau of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

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

"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.

Despite efforts to prevent a large amount of illicit assets from being transferred abroad by coordinating with other countries and regions, work is hampered by the fact that procuratorates can only seal, freeze or seize illicit assets involving crimes committed in the course of public duty for a limited period of time, instead of permanently confiscating them, if the suspects are still at large or have escaped custody.

The work will be fully carried out after the amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law takes effect on January 1, 2013, the official said.

The amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law, which was endorsed in March, stipulates that procuratorates can submit to the courts requests to confiscate the illicit assets of officials suspected of corruption if the suspects are missing or dead.

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

The official said the major destination countries for China's runaway corrupt officials, such as the US, Britain and Australia, all recognize the criminal ruling of confiscation.

"The escaped officials not only bring economic losses to China, but also set a 'model' for other officials who may follow suit," said Lin Zhe, an anti-corruption expert. As China has not signed bilateral extradition treaties with some countries, it is not easy to punish corrupt officials who hide in these countries, she noted.

A total of 18,487 corrupt officials suspected of attempting to escape overseas were arrested from 2000 to 2011, with assets recovered during half of this period hitting 54.19 billion yuan ($8.52 billion), China Economic Weekly reported citing official figures.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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