Fugitive bank manager held in Canada

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am

Fugitive Bank of China manager Gao Shan has been arrested in Vancouver on immigration charges. He is accused of embezzling between 800 million yuan and 1 billion yuan.

The 42-year-old former banker is being held by Canadian authorities for allegedly making false statements on papers he filed to enter Canada as a permanent resident in 2005. Gao, wife Li Xue and daughter Gao Shanxuellan were arrested on Sunday in their middle-class, suburban North Vancouver house.

His wife and daughter, who are permanent residents, have been released but a decision will be made by the Canadian immigration authorities today on whether to keep Gao in detention.

If his immigration status is revoked, the Canadian government can expel him, but it is unclear if he would be sent directly back to China.

The former bank manager is wanted by mainland authorities for his alleged main role in a billion-yuan fraud case at a Bank of China sub-branch in Harbin , Heilongjiang .

Gao's immigration counsel, Alex Ning, said his client was arrested for inaccurately stating where he had worked in China.

He said his client had held a number of jobs, including at a forest products company, an automobile firm and the Bank of China.

Mr Ning said given the lack of transparency in China's legal system, Gao was worried he would not have a fair trial if sent back.

During an immigration detention hearing on Wednesday, Ms Li said she did not know about her husband's troubles until two months ago when a friend told her that he was a suspect in the Bank of China embezzlement scandal.

Bank of China spokesman Wang Zhaowen said yesterday thatCanada should send Gao back to China. 'We have been informed of his arrest. We hope the Canadian side and the Chinese side can strengthen law enforcement co-operation on this matter so that he can be sent back soon,' he said.

Canada and China have no extradition treaty and Beijing has tried for years to get Ottawa to send back alleged smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing , who has been fighting an extradition request in Vancouver.