The first Chinese citizen to head Interpol pleaded guilty in a court in China Thursday to taking $2 million in bribes.
Meng Hongwei admitted during a hearing at Tianjin No 1 Intermediate People’s Court that he helped companies “make illegal gains.”
The offenses occurred from 2005 to 2017 when he held various public security positions in China, according to the charges.
Meng, 65, resigned in October last year as Interpol’s president. He had served two years of his four-year term.
Lyon, France-based Interpol — the International Criminal Police Organization — isn’t a police force. It’s an information clearing house that promotes international police cooperation.
Authorities in China arrested Meng during a visit there in September last year.
His wife, Grace, was in France and didn’t know his whereabouts for several weeks. She asked French authorities to help find him.
China’s Ministry of Public Security eventually announced that Meng was under investigation for accepting bribes and other “willful” crimes.
Meng’s wife has since applied for asylum in France.
While he served as head of Interpol, Meng was also the vice minister of China’s national police.
In a now-removed bio of him, Interpol said Meng had “almost 40 years’ experience in criminal justice and policing . . . related to legal institutions, narcotics control, counter-terrorism, border control, immigration and international cooperation.”
China’s Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi said last year that Meng’s bribe-taking and abuse of power had inflicted “serious damage” on the Chinese Communist Party and “the cause of public security.”
Interpol is best known for its Red Notices — requests by Interpol members (all countries except North Korea) for other members to detain and extradite a wanted individual.
The court in China Thursday said Meng will be sentenced on a later date.
Richard L. Cassin is editor at large of the FCPA Blog.