Corruption in China

Chinese corruption suspect who fled to New Zealand returns voluntarily after 11 years on the run

  • Jiang Lei, former official of automobile manufacturers’ association, became subject of Interpol red notice after fleeing Chinese authorities’ corruption charges
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 1:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 11:00pm

A Chinese former automotive industry official who is suspected of corruption has returned to China from New Zealand to surrender to authorities after 11 years on the run, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

Beijing has redoubled efforts to press corruption suspects overseas to give themselves up, asking their families to contact them and encourage them to return, and releasing personal details such as addresses.

Efforts to return corruption suspects are a crucial plank of President Xi Jinping’s campaign to eradicate graft, but those efforts have met with scepticism from western countries, where authorities fear for the human rights of suspects and due process when they return home.

The return of Jiang Lei, a former deputy president of China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers, was brokered by the international arm of China’s anti-graft agencies and New Zealand law enforcement, Xinhua said.

“Jiang Lei has returned to China voluntarily, following an agreement between himself, his lawyer and Chinese authorities,” a New Zealand police spokeswoman said.

“New Zealand police was not a party to the agreement but were aware of the negotiations.”

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New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little said Jiang had not been extradited.

Interpol issued a “red notice” – an international alert for a wanted person – for Jiang in August 2007, after Chinese prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest. He had fled the country for New Zealand in April that year.

Jiang’s case shows China’s resolve to bring to justice all graft suspects overseas, an anti-corruption official told Xinhua.

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Those overseas should “abandon illusions” and grasp the opportunity to surrender and to receive more lenient treatment, the official added.

In 2017, 1,300 fugitives returned to China from overseas, including 347 officials facing corruption charges, and 980 million yuan ($142 million) in illicit assets was recovered.