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Jerry Fang on the breakthrough: United States no longer a safe haven for China graft fugitives

China’s official Xinhua News agency marked America’s cooperation on China’s overseas anti-graft efforts as an important milestone achieved during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Washington in late September.

During President Xi’s trip, the U.S. government agreed for the first time to work with China in achieving the recognition and enforcement of property confiscation judgments rendered by Chinese courts in anti-corruption cases.

A Fact Sheet released by the White House for President Xi’s visit said:

President Obama and President Xi decided to continue expanding law enforcement and anti-corruption cooperation, including by enhancing coordination and cooperation on criminal investigations, repatriation of fugitives, and asset recovery issues. The United States and China welcomed recent progress on repatriating Chinese fugitives and illegal immigrants through charter flights and look forward to continuing this cooperation. The United States welcomes China’s commitment to consider joining the OECD Working Group on Bribery as a participant in the near future.

An immediate result of the new cooperation means it’s now possible to have China’s “special confiscation procedure” recognized in the United States, and to confiscate suspects’ property even when a trial cannot be conducted because the suspects have fled to another country.

On September 24, corruption suspect Kuang Wanfang, who fled to the United States 14 years ago, was repatriated to China. Six days earlier, Yang Jinjun, who is on the Interpol “Red Notice” list and has lived in the United States for 14 years, was also repatriated back to China.

The United States has been a favorite country for Chinese corruption fugitives. The absence of an extradition treaty between has meant repatriation usually required a lengthy and complicated judicial process. That has now changed.

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Jianwei (Jerry) Fang is a partner with the China-based Global Law Office in the firm’s Shanghai and Beijing offices. He was a judge in China and studied law at Columbia. He can be reached here.

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