US returns to China wife of banker in fraud case

AP News
Posted: Sep 24, 2015 3:32 AM

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese woman who was convicted and jailed in 2009 for money laundering was returned to China on Thursday, Chinese authorities said, just ahead of a meeting between President Barack Obama with Chinese President Xi Jinping,

Kuang Wanfang, wife of a former Bank of China official, was repatriated following cooperation with U.S. law enforcement, China's Supervision Ministry said. She is the second person to be repatriated to China since Beijing launched the "Sky Net" campaign in April to bring back people who are accused of economic crimes and have fled overseas.

The United States lacks an extradition treaty with China and is wary that the country's opaque court system may be unfair to defendants, so it has typically been cautious in turning Chinese nationals over to Beijing.

Kuang is married to Xu Chaofan, who was involved in a $485 million fraud case in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. She and another banker's wife were convicted by a federal jury in Las Vegas of helping launder the proceeds and violating immigration laws, including entering the country illegally and gaining U.S. citizenship through fraud. The women each got eight years in prison.

Their husbands also were convicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering and international transportation of stolen property and fraud. The men were jailed for 25 years and 22 years respectively.

The main culprit, Yu Zhendong, was sent back to China in 2004 on the condition that Yu would not be tortured or given the death penalty, which can be applied in China even for non-violent white-collar crimes. Yu eventually got 12 years in prison.

The ministry said Kuang would face investigation by Chinese authorities on graft and bribery charges. It's unclear if the other three people would be repatriated to China.

Last week, the United States sent back Chinese businessman Yang Jinjun, who is suspected of graft and bribery. His sister, Yang Xiuzhu, has been detained in the United States but is seeking political asylum. The woman, formerly a deputy mayor in the eastern city of Wenzhou, is wanted in China for embezzling more than $40 million.