China says 88 fugitives returned from abroad

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — China's police ministry on Sunday said 88 fugitives wanted on charges of corruption and other economic offenses have been extradited or returned on their own from the United States and other countries in the midst of an anti-graft crackdown.

One fugitive spent 14 years in Canada and was accused of embezzling 60 million yuan ($10 million), the ministry said. It said another was arrested in Thailand, while 35 of the 88 suspects "were persuaded" to return from the United States, Belgium and other countries.

The government of President Xi Jinping is in the midst of the latest in a series of anti-graft crackdowns dating back two decades. Party leaders have warned repeatedly that public anger at pervasive corruption could erode acceptance of one-party rule.

Sunday's statement gave no names of suspects involved in the latest arrests or other details of their cases.

A growing number of government figures, known popularly as "naked officials," are believed to have sent stolen money and their family members abroad.

In July, authorities launched a campaign dubbed Fox Hunt 2014 to track down corruption suspects abroad. The official Xinhua News Agency said then authorities wanted to "block the last route of retreat for corrupt officials."

Many officials are accused of stealing public money or abusing their regulatory powers in a state-dominated economy to demand bribes and other favors from companies.

In July, the Communist Party announced an investigation of a former member of its ruling Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, for possible "serious violations of party discipline" — a term usually used to describe corruption.