After months of silence, officials admit deputy party boss has fled

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 August, 2010, 12:00am

Months of speculation that a senior party official from Anyang , Henan , has become a fugitive from justice have been confirmed.

A report on the city government's official news website on Friday said Anyang's 53-year-old deputy party boss, Li Weimin , had fled to escape a corruption investigation, Xinhua reported.

It said Li had been expelled from the party and dismissed from his position but did not reveal his whereabouts or say why the authorities had kept quiet about his disappearance for more than three months.

As recently as last week, a top Anyang government official was still insisting Li was out of the city for hospital treatment, the Yunnan Information News reported on Thursday.

Official media say that as many as 4,000 officials have fled the country in the past 30 years, taking a total of US$50 billion in public funds with them.

But some academics say that figure seriously understates the scale of the problem and estimate that more than 10,000 officials have fled with a total of US$100 billion in public funds in the past decade.

The last time Li was seen in public was on May 19, when he was in Beijing to attend the funeral of Fang Xiaoyu , a former deputy governor of Hainan province . He vanished on his way back to Anyang.

According to the Yunnan Information News, Li and his driver checked into a hotel in Shijiazhuang , Henan, but he left his hotel room without informing his driver. Two days later, the driver reported Li's disappearance to the municipal government.

The report said Li's wife, also a senior Anyang official, had been investigated in relation to his case.

Mainland media said Li might have been involved in corruption in Sanmenxia , another city in Henan, before moving to Anyang. He was deputy mayor of Sanmenxia from December 1998 to 2001 and was then put in charge of cadres' promotions as head of the city's party organisation department.