Xi close aide heads office chasing corruption suspects overseas
Li Shulei to lead arm hunting for Chinese graft suspects who’ve fled abroad
A close aide of Chinese President Xi Jinping has been appointed head of a powerful office chasing corrupt officials who fled overseas and retrieving the money they took, according to the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog.
Li Shulei, the deputy chief of the anti-corruption agency the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, was heading the office, the agency said in a statement on its website.
Li attended the opening ceremony for a training course under his new title as director of the office pursuing fugitive suspects and stolen assets, under the central anti-corruption coordination team.
The office was created in 2014 to bring corrupt officials back home to face justice.
The office can pull together staff within China from the Supreme People’s Court, the top procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the foreign ministry, state security apparatus, the justice ministry and the central bank.
The office also works as Beijing’s arm liaising with the authorities overseas about the extradition of wanted officials and the repatriation of cash.
The office compiled and published the “Most Wanted 100 List” in 2015, or Red List, of corrupt officials who have fled abroad.
Thirty-nine suspects on the list have been brought back to China so far, according to the anti-graft commission.
Individuals still wanted for questioning include Ling Wancheng, a young brother of former president Hu Jintao’s chief of staff Ling Jihua, who was jailed for life on graft charges last year.
The appointment of Li to head the office after he secured the position as deputy chief at the commission at the beginning of this year could point to enhanced efforts by Beijing to net suspects as the party prepares for a top leadership reshuffle this autumn.
Li, 53, is viewed as a close aide of Xi and the brains behind many of his speeches.
When Xi was head of the Central Party School from 2007 to 2012 before becoming president, Li worked directly under him and was promoted to deputy head in 2008.
Li, who enrolled into the prestigious Peking University at the age of 14 in 1978, is known for his scholarly understanding of literature and society.
He has published at least nine books, with the most recent one released in 2003.
The office under Li would continue to advance the Skynet operation, a campaign China launched in 2015 to capture fugitives abroad, and pursue “new achievements” in the anti-graft crackdown and hunt for suspects and their ill-gotten gains, the commission said.
Some 951 suspect were caught overseas and assets worth nearly 1 billion yuan (US$145 million) seized last year, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.