China is no longer a haven for Taiwan’s fugitives after Taiwan and China signed an agreement to combat crime in April 2009, according to one prosecutor.
Kao Feng-chi (高峰祈), who was in charge of repatriating criminals from China for the Ministry of Justice’s Prosecution Office, said Taiwan has requested that China repatriate more than 200 criminals since the agreement was enacted in June 2009, with more than 100 criminals having been returned so far.
He said the ministry’s Investigation Bureau (MJIB) and the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) were both seeking fugitives in China. The bureaus’ methods include tracing the fugitives’ whereabouts by monitoring the telephones of their families and close friends. Once the investigators know where a fugitive is, they tell the ministry and the ministry notifies its counterpart in China to request an arrest.
China’s judicial authorities won’t track down Taiwanese fugitives; they want Taiwan to provide precise information about a fugitive’s whereabouts before they agree to take action, Kao said.
Citing former lawmaker Kuo Ting-tsai (郭廷才) as an example, Kao said Kuo was traced by CIB officers through telephone conversations with his son in Taiwan. The 74-year-old Kuo was arrested in Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, and repatriated in November to serve a sentence term for corruption stemming from his tenure as Pingtung County Council speaker, Kao said. Kuo had been on Taiwan’s most-wanted list since he fled the country in February 2005.
Former Taiwan High Court judge Chang Ping-lung (張炳龍) was also repatriated from China in November to serve his prison term for corruption, after three years and eight months on the run.
Chang fled to China in March 2007. He had been hiding in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, but moved to a small city in Sichuan Province in the middle of last year after he was alerted he was being traced, Kao said. Investigators were able to track the former judge by monitoring his wife in Taiwan and a girlfriend in China, he said.
Former Changhua County council speaker Pai Hung-shen (白鴻森), who fled to China in late 2009, was repatriated in May last year to serve his sentence for corruption.
Because white-collar criminals such as Kuo and Chang cultivate good relations with local authorities in China, local governments had delayed arresting them or providing information about their whereabouts, he said.
The ministry had to contact Beijing’s Ministry of Public Security, which then formed a task force to make the arrests, he said.
To avoid the problem of “influential criminals” bribing local officials to avoid arrest, the justice ministry prefers to deal directly with authorities in Beijing, Kao said, although it has still been unable to repatriate tycoons such as former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪), former An Feng Group president Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), former Kuangsan Enterprise Group president Tseng Cheng-jen (曾正仁), former legislative speaker Liu Sung-fan (劉松藩) and a former Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law employee Eddie Liu (劉偉杰), who has been accused of embezzling a huge amount from the firm.
Chu and Eddie Liu have been difficult to trace because they cut off almost all contract with people in Taiwan, Kao said.
Chen Yu-hao and Liu Sung-fan are believed have become “honored guests” of Chinese officials because they are wealthy or have substantial business interests in China and are free to travel in China or to the US, Kao said.