Senior US officials and their Chinese counterparts will meet in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who have fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, Reuters reported, citing a State Department official.
No extradition treaty exists between the US and China, making America, and other countries such as Australia and Canada, attractive destinations for Chinese officials fleeing the country and a haven for the assets they have allegedly stolen.
Western governments have been reluctant to hand over suspects because of a lack of transparency and due process in China’s judicial system, according to the news agency. International human rights groups say torture is used as a tool for extracting confessions in Chinese interrogations.
Government officials convicted of corruption have been sentenced to death.
Alternatives to extradition exist, US officials say, including deportation for violations of US immigration law.
Canada, which has no formal extradition treaty with China, has recently expelled suspects wanted by Beijing, including Lai Changxing. Lai, a businessman wanted for corruption, was sent back to China from Canada in 2011 on the promise that he would not be executed. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Last year Chinese officials said more than 150 “economic fugitives”, many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the US. Neither country has publicly provided a figure for how much stolen money has been smuggled out of China and into the US.
But the Washington-based Global Financial Integrity group, which tracks illegal outflows from countries, estimates that between 2003 and 2012, US$1.25 trillion of illicit cash left China.
Some of that moves around the world through dummy bank accounts and other means, and once in the US, it is often invested in real estate, making its original source hard to trace.
Officials from both countries met for two days in the Philippines last month, with the US delegation led by David Luna, the US State Department’s senior director for National Security and Diplomacy, according to the news agency.
Luna confirmed to Reuters that he attended the meetings and said talks will reconvene in August and will include law enforcement and legal experts.
Chinese officials have refused to comment.
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