China Wants To Work With India On Overseas Black Money Hunt

December 17th, 2015 : Both Beijing and New Delhi have similar concerns on banking secrecy in the West posing impediments in tracking overseas black money.

A top Chinese anti-corruption official said on Thursday Beijing was keen to work more closely with India on tracking down overseas black money, with the Chinese Communist Party stepping up a campaign to bring back corrupt officials who have fled overseas. Both Beijing and New Delhi have similar concerns on banking secrecy in the West posing impediments in tracking overseas black money. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the G20 meeting in Turkey that India wanted greater international cooperation to "address the barriers of excessive banking secrecy, and complex legal and regulatory frameworks." This was echoed on Thursday by Liu Jianchao, a Vice Minister of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention and a Director General at the international department of the CPC's powerful anti-corruption body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

In a rare meeting with journalists - the CCDI is among the Party's most secretive and powerful organisations - the official said the CCDI had through its "sky net" initiative aimed at repatriating corrupt officials already had  brought back over 800 people, of whom 150 people held public positions. In April, Interpol released a red corner notice with China's top 100 corruption suspects. Of them, Liu said 18 had been brought back to China or surrendered themselves to the police. Asked by India Today if the CCDI had an estimate of the amount of wealth and assets that had been taken out of the country - a report by the People's Bank of China had in 2008 placed the amount in the range of $ 120 billion, but the figures were never verified and the report was later deleted - Liu said security authorities and the bank had "launched a joint campaign to crack down on underground banking and money laundering", and were still assessing the amount.

"I think your question is related to number of runaway fugitives. Those numbers are still to be examined. The flow of money and flow of cash will take a longer time for us to find illegal gains… It is also one of priorities for international cooperation". "I have also noticed the Indian government has made a lot of efforts and taken effective measures in terms of asset recovery," he added. "China is willing to conduct exchanges and cooperation with India."

Among the cases China is pursuing is the repatriation of the Vice Mayor of the southern industrial city Wenzhou, Yang Xiuzhu, accused of accepting bribes in excess of $ 40 million. Yang fled to Holland and later to the U.S., where she had been detained. Liu said the case was "a priority" for China and the U.S.

The CCDI, under Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan - the sixth ranked member and a right-hand of President Xi Jinping - has detained hundreds of officials in an unprecedented campaign launched by Xi after taking office in 2013.

In addition to putting forward a number of stricter disciplinary measures for officials, the commission was also making it harder for officials to flee overseas, Liu said. For instance, officials are not allowed to keep passports in their possession, and can only travel abroad with permission of the authorities. "Now the number of fugitives brought back to China has exceeded those fled to other countries," he said.