Bank of China

Top fugitive surrenders to police after 8 years

Former bank manager Gao Shan fled to Canada in 2004 after committing one billion yuan fraud

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 7:50pm

One of the country's top fugitives, who was behind a 1 billion yuan bank fraud, has surrendered to mainland police after nearly eight years of self-imposed exile in Canada, the Ministry of Public Security announced yesterday.

The return of Gao Shan , a former Bank of China sub-branch manager in Heilongjiang who fled to Canada in 2004, marks another success in the country's hard-fought battle to extradite high-profile fugitives following the extradition of smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing last year.

According to a statement posted on the ministry's website, Gao, 47, returned to the mainland recently as a result of painstaking efforts by police to seek his extradition.

Gao's case first came to light in 2005 when Northeast Expressway, a highway company, discovered nearly 300 million yuan was missing from its BOC account.

It led to further investigations that found that more than 800 million yuan of clients' deposits were unaccounted for. Along with several others, Gao, the former head of the BOC's Hesong Street branch, is accused of embezzling up to 1 billion yuan of clients' deposits and transferring large sums of money to his family in Canada from 2000 to 2004 before fleeing China.

A month after Gao and associate Li Dongzhe arrived in Canada on December 31, 2004, mainland authorities issued an arrest warrant for them. By then, Gao's family had attained permanent residency in Canada.

China later asked Canada to extradite Gao, who was arrested in Vancouver in 2007 on outstanding Chinese warrants.

Canadian authorities were said to have tried to revoke the family's resident status on the grounds that Gao and his wife had failed to declare all the money they had when they arrived.

The ministry statement made no mention of the role of central government or its overseas diplomatic missions, which were understood to have been heavily involved in extradition negotiations with Canada.

In January, Li, who allegedly colluded with Gao, also returned to the mainland and surrendered to police after seven years of self-imposed exile in Canada.

China's attempts to extradite its most-wanted fugitives from Canada have been unsuccessful in the past because China and Canada do not have an extradition treaty.

But last year, Lai Changxing, China's No1 fugitive, who was accused of running a US$10 billion smuggling ring, was deported to the mainland from Canada after Beijing assured Canada he would not face the death penalty. Lai was jailed for life in May.

Professor Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based analyst, said the return of Gao and other high-profile fugitives underlined Beijing's growing "economic might and rapidly expanding influence."