Corrupt officials still on the run

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 August, 2007, 12:00am

Yunnan's most wanted corrupt official is behind bars for life but 84 others suspected of major graft are still on the run.

The suspects, the first of whom fled the country in February 1992, are wanted for cases involving tens of millions of yuan, the Yunnan-based Metropolis Times reported yesterday.

Hu Xing , former deputy director of provincial transport, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for taking 40 million yuan in bribes. He fled to Singapore in January on a fake passport but agreed to accompany mainland police back to Yunnan the next month.

The report quoted an unnamed official in the Yunnan anti-corruption bureau of the prosecutor's office as saying the province's long border made it easier for suspects to flee.

A quarter of Yunnan's 100 or so counties border Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos and, in addition to numerous mountain trails, 20 highways and 93 other transport links directly connect it with international neighbours.

'The special geographic position has made things easier for fleeing corrupt officials,' the official said.

The official said people fleeing with relatively small sums would head to countries such as Thailand, Myanmar and Mongolia, while those embezzling larger amounts tended to opt for developed countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Others who have problems with their travel documents stay in Latin American or Eastern European countries, where legal loopholes allow them to stay and apply for entry to other countries.

The official said fleeing officials were hard to find and investigate because they tended to transfer their illegal gains into legitimate personal assets.

Extradition was also hampered by differences between mainland law and that of other countries. Some countries refused to hand over political crime suspects or those who could face the death penalty.