Ah, America. The Land of Opportunities to Hide Out Indefinitely, and Store your Ill-gotten Assets.
A new survey from the People’s Bank of China claims that between 16 and 18 thousand corrupt government employees, including police officers, judicial officers, managers of state-owned companies and institutions both working in China and abroad, have fled overseas in the past two and a half decades, with abdicated assets totaling an estimated 800 billion yuan (US$123 billion).
Shanghai Daily claims that America is the number one destination for officials more crooked than the communist sickle, with Australia and the Netherlands also proving popular:
Those unable to get visas for Western countries opt for temporary stays in small countries in Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe while they wait for a chance to move to more developed countries, the People’s Bank of China report said.
Low-ranking officials usually escape to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mongolia and Russia, it said.
Who knew the U.S. was the Swiss bank and Mexican shantytown of choice for crooked comrades? Various means were used to transfer assets out of the country, including cash withdrawals using credit cards while overseas, forging trade documents, making use of offshore financial institutions, engaging in overseas investments and taking bribes while abroad.
Money was also often wired to relatives, mistresses and other associates. And of course, some chose to opt for the time-honored though risky method of smuggling money in non-descript bags.
The government is seeking to address the problem by requiring an increase of inspections in a variety of sectors, including financial companies and state-owned monopolies, and also requiring international transfers greater than $10,000 US dollars involving individuals to be reported to the central bank.
Considering that a developed country like the United States is a destination of choice even for Chinese who’ve made their money legally, the news that crooked officials leave China for America shouldn’t come as a surprise. Bain & Company recently reported that almost two-thirds of Chinese with assets worth $15 million US dollars or more have intentions to leave the country.
The New York Times also reported last year that rich Chinese seek investment and immigration opportunities abroad often because they didn’t feel secure in their home country, especially when it came to their assets. One especially acute observer noted that, ‘You can be a tiger, but there is always a hunter somewhere.’