Bank of China

Suspect in bank fraud surrenders

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2012, 12:00am

The alleged mastermind of a 1 billion yuan (HK$1.2 billion) bank fraud in Heilongjiang province has returned to the mainland and surrendered to police after seven years of self-imposed exile in Canada.

Li Dongzhe, 45, is said to have played a key role in the fraud from 2000 to 2004, Xinhua reported yesterday, quoting a statement from the Ministry of Public Security.

Li is among a group of mostwanted fugitives that have returned from overseas in recent months.

Lai Changxing, the principal suspect in an 80 billion Yuanhua Group smuggling case in Xiamen, Fujian, was repatriated from Canada in late July, after fleeing the mainland for 12 years.

Meanwhile, Zeng Hanlin, 66, a millionaire who fled to Canada in 2004 and was jailed for fraud after he was deported back to China, has lodged an appeal against the sentence, Agence France-Presse reported, citing his lawyer yesterday.

The number of corrupt officials fleeing the mainland after accepting bribes or embezzling public funds has been troubling Beijing for years.

According to statistics released by the People's Bank of China last summer, up to 18,000 officials from government agencies, police forces and state-owned enterprises across the mainland had stolen roughly 800 billion yuan since the mid-1990s and taken the assets overseas.

Along with his younger brother, Li Donghu , Li Dongzhe allegedly colluded with Gao Shan , then head of a Bank of China branch in Harbin , Heilongjiang's provincial capital, and embezzled more than 1 billion yuan of deposits from customers' accounts.

The Li brothers and Gao fled to Canada in late 2004, with Bank of China discovering the loss in 2005.

The bank sacked 14 staff and punished another 22. Beijing had been seeking the repatriation of the Li brothers and Gao since 2007.