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'Global effort needed to fight corruption'

By Zhang Yan in Dalian, Liaoning (China Daily)

08:26, June 28, 2012

A top Chinese official called for closer international cooperation to retrieve the assets transferred abroad by corrupt officials.

Speaking at a meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, Zhou Yongkang, head of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said nations and law enforcement agencies must cooperate to stem the transfer of illegal assets and cash by corrupt officials.

Zhou said the country will strengthen the monitoring of illegal assets confiscated from corrupt officials and increase the penalties for money laundering.

"With deepening economic globalization, corruption has become increasingly organized and transnational," he said.

"Failure in early recovery will affect the economic and social development of the victim country and disturb economic order in the destination country," he said.

Government officials and some senior executives from State-owned enterprises have sent a large amount of illegal income to countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Britain and Russia, according to Zhao Jianwei, chief prosecutor of Dalian people's procuratorate in Northeast China's Liaoning province.

This is mainly through money laundering carried out by underground banks, Zhao said.

"Illegal assets are usually transferred across borders in a stealthy way through a lot of links and are difficult to recover," Zhou said.

"So it is difficult for the anti-corruption agency of a single country or region to prevent, detect and crack down on such crime on its own," he said.

According to Zhou, in China, national prosecution authorities have handled 30,000 cases of abuse of power since 2008, and nearly 40,000 government employees a year have been punished since then.

To implement the mechanism for asset recovery under the UN Convention against Corruption and to effectively recover assets from corruption cases is crucial to the prevention and punishment of transnational crimes involving corruption, Cao Jianming, chief prosecutor of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said at the meeting.

"Anti-corruption authorities from all countries and regions should be aware of the urgency of international cooperation in assets recovery, and they should implement the mechanisms for the disposal, forfeiture, recovery and return of assets," he said.

In addition, anti-corruption authorities should cooperate more closely in the extradition of criminal suspects, he said.

"We have successfully arrested a number of fugitives that fled China and recovered large amounts of assets by extradition, repatriation, legal assistance and police cooperation," Zhou said.

Last year in Dalian, 300 million yuan ($47 million) in illegal funds were recovered, according to the Dalian people's procuratorate.

"Anti-corruption authorities should seek common ground, put aside differences and be result-oriented to strengthen anti-corruption exchanges, asset recovery included, and intensify efforts to punish transnational and trans-regional corruption to aid the international efforts against corruption," Dimitri Vlassis, an official from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said.


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