Nationwide blitz on corrupt officials nets 400 fugitives

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2006, 12:00am

More than 400 corrupt officials on the run were tracked down - more than half of last year's total number - in the first two months of this year as the central government intensified its crackdown on graft.

The blitz, dubbed by mainland media as 'a storm on corrupt officials on the run', is the second nationwide co-operation between the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security since 2001.

Last year, the prosecutor's office tracked down 703 missing officials.

At the end of last month, seven of the officials found were county-level officers and one held a ministerial post, China News Service reported.

About 160 - or 40 per cent of the 400 corrupt officials - surrendered to the authorities.

A large number of the officials had hidden in border areas or near ports in the hope of fleeing the country. It was unclear whether they have been prosecuted.

One of the officials found was Lian Rongguang, a former vice-mayor in Hebei's Renqiu city and chief of the People's Bank of China in Cangzhou city, the news report said.

Lian, who had been on the run for two years, was suspected of having received more than 1 million yuan in bribes and embezzling 3 million yuan.

In a separate case, Fu Xianliang, former construction bureau vice-director from Xiaoshan city , Zhejiang province, was recently sentenced to life in jail and his property confiscated.

Fu received bribes of 1.85 million yuan, some 1.54 million yuan of which has been recovered.

Mainland media cited a Ministry of Commerce report which said about 4,000 officials had fled the country in recent years, taking with them US$50 billion in embezzled funds.

The lack of extradition treaties between Beijing and some of the destination countries - including Japan and Canada - meant it was difficult to capture the officials and recover the money.

Meanwhile, the mainland's chief prosecutor Jia Chunwang told a meeting on Friday that the nation's prosecutor offices would step up supervision and target the involvement of government officials particularly in commercial crimes.

Construction projects, land leasing, medical kickbacks and government merchandising are among the areas targeted.