Canada is set to sign a deal with China to return assets seized from those suspected of economic crimes, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported yesterday, as Beijing works to track down allegedly corrupt officials who have fled overseas.
The world’s second-largest economy has vowed to instigate a “fox hunt” for corrupt officials and business executives — and their assets — beyond its borders.
However, Western nations have balked at signing extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and its treatment of prisoners.
The pact is expected to cover “the return of property related to people who would have fled to Canada and would have been involved in corrupt activities,” Canadian Ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques told the China Daily in an interview.
China has extradition pacts with 39 countries, but not the US or Canada, which are among the two most popular destinations for suspected economic fugitives, Chinese officials say.
Rights groups allege that torture is widely used by Chinese authorities and the death penalty is common in corruption cases.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is considering suing people suspected of financial crimes who have fled abroad.
Lai Changxing (賴昌星), once China’s most-wanted fugitive, fled to Canada with his family in 1999, seeking refugee status after he became the object of what he called politically motivated accusations of having run a multibillion dollar smuggling operation.
After a Canadian court rejected his refugee bid, dismissing concerns that he could be tortured or executed if sent home, Lai was deported in 2011. He was jailed for life the following year.
China this month asked the US to help it track down more than 100 people suspected of corruption. At least 428 Chinese suspects had been captured abroad by the end of October under the “fox hunt” campaign, Chinese media outlets reported.
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