One down, 99 to go. Chinese police have taken down the first of 100 fugitives named on a recent “most wanted list” by Interpol in China, reports China Daily.
Dai Xuemin, the former boss of a trust and investment firm suspected of embezzling 11 million RMB (US$1.75 million), was arrested at a Chinese airport on Saturday morning. Dai was apprehended after trying to enter the country with a fake ID and foreign passport. He had been at large since absconding in August 2001, where he was thought to have fled to the United States, Belize or South Korea.
The arrest comes a mere four days after Interpol’s National Central Bureau in China published its first list of the top 100 most wanted economic fugitives. Comprising of 77 males and 23 females suspected of graft (the charges include embezzlement, abusing power, corruption and bribery), the list is part of “Operation Sky Net”—the latest effort in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Following on from the efforts of “Operation Fox Hunt”, which managed to track down and capture 680 escaped officials since mid 2014, the current sting, which launched this month, is directing particular focus at underground banks and confiscating misappropriated assets.
According to China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), approximately two-thirds of the top 100 fugitives has escaped to the US or Canada due to the non-existence of an extradition treaty with China, as they hope to avoid being repatriated if caught. Topping the list is Yang Xiuzhu, a former deputy head of the former Zhejiang provincial construction department who is at the centre of a 253 million RMB (US$40.7 million) corruption investigation. After fleeing to the US in 2003, she was found in an underground Rotterdam room and arrested by Dutch police in 2005. 10 years on, authorities in the Netherlands have begun the process of extradition to China, where Yang will likely face trial. Ren Jianming, an anti-corruption expert at a Beijing university, expects the release of the list to act as a catalyst for expedited negotiations with foreign law-enforcement agencies concerning the apprehension and extradition of suspected criminals abroad.
The renewed efforts to track down absconders will no doubt unnerve those who find their mug shots on the list. Already this year, the crackdown on corruption has claimed a number of important scalps and dealt out lengthy jail sentences, including a former Nanjing mayor (15 years), an ex-Shanghai health official (19 years), and a Shandong police officer guilty of taking bribes from gangsters (20 years).
By Liam Bourke