Fugitive Chinese official Yang Xuizhu, suspected of corruption, detained by US immigration

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2015, 11:08am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2015, 11:28am

A former senior Chinese official, who went into hiding after she was sought by anti-corruption investigators in China, has been detained in the United States, US immigration officials said.

Yang Xiuzhu, a senior official who oversaw construction projects in the booming eastern province of Zhejiang, is in US custody pending her removal to China, Luis Martinez, a spokesman for the US immigration agency, said in a statement.

Her portrait appears at the top of photos of about 100 Chinese economic fugitives on Interpol’s Red List, released by Chinese law enforcement, although it is unclear if this means she is the most-wanted suspect.

“As a foreign law enforcement fugitive, Yang is an immigration enforcement priority,” Martinez said.

Chinese authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.

The detention comes as China pushes for talks with the US on an extradition treaty, which would be a big boost for Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign.

According to the immigration agency’s database, a Chinese national by the name of Yang Xiuzhu is being held in detention in Hudson County, New Jersey.

Yang is one of a number of Chinese nationals suspected of corruption who have fled overseas.

She first fled to Singapore in 2003 before changing her name and flying to New York.

She was eventually detained in Amsterdam in 2005, where China wasn’t able to gain custody of her, despite protracted negotiations with the Netherlands. In addition to the US, China lacks an extradition treaty with the Netherlands.

It was not immediately clear how Yang ended up in the US or how US authorities detained her.

Martinez said Yang had violated the terms of the US visa-waiver programme, which allows some citizens from certain countries to stay in the US for three months or less.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Yang’s case.

China, which has said there are more than 150 economic fugitives hiding in the United States, had filed an arrest warrant for her through Interpol.

Chinese police reported on May 25 that it had caught its first suspect on the list of 100 fugitives. Dai Xuemin, the former manager of a trust and investment company suspected of embezzling funds worth 11 million yuan (HK$14 million) who fled overseas in August, 2001, was caught recently when he tried to re-enter the country with a forged ID and foreign passport.

Additional reporting by Andrea Chen