China captures corruption suspect thought to have fled overseas

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2015 8:34 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has caught a top corruption suspect it thought had fled to the United States after discovering he had returned home to stay with his parents in Shanghai, state media said on Thursday.

In April, Beijing published its "Sky Net" list of top 100 suspects thought to have gone overseas, having long maintained its anti-corruption fight was being hampered by Western countries' reluctance to sign extradition treaties.

Authorities have since repatriated a handful of the fugitives, mostly from countries with close ties to China, but also from the United States.

"These years, I have been hiding here and there in distant places," the official Sichuan Daily quoted Zhu Zhenyu, a suspect in the embezzlement of more than 1.4 million yuan ($220,000) through mortgage loan schemes, as saying after his capture.

"My life has been difficult," he said, asking authorities for leniency.

The paper said Zhu, who had worked in security at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in southwestern Sichuan province, "fled to the United States" in 2002, beginning 13 years on the run from the law.

But he returned home in 2004, as his mother's health was failing, and there is no record of his having left the country subsequently, it added. It is not clear why Zhu was not apprehended when he re-entered China.

After years of investigation, authorities persuaded his father to convince Zhu to give himself up, the paper said, and on Oct. 12, he surrendered at his parents' Shanghai home.

He is the 15th person on China's list of overseas fugitives to be caught.

Western nations have balked at signing extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners.

Rights groups say Chinese authorities use torture and that the death penalty is common in corruption cases.

Though China has redoubled efforts to bring back suspects from abroad, the epicenter of its anti-graft campaign is at home.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been driving a sweeping crackdown on deep-rooted graft after taking over the party's leadership in late 2012.

Since then, dozens of senior officials, military officers and executives at state-owned companies have been investigated or jailed.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)