US sends woman convicted of $485m fraud back to China

2015-09-24 20:23

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Beijing - A Chinese woman convicted and jailed in the United States for her part in a scheme to steal nearly $500m from a state-run Chinese bank was sent back to China on Thursday, officials said.

Beijing and Washington have no extradition treaty, but the return was the second in less than a week and comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a state visit to the US.

Kuang Wanfang was repatriated after "close cooperation between Chinese authorities and their US counterparts", the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection said in a statement.

"No country has a place for those who are corrupt," it added. "To return to one's country and give yourself up is the only way out."

Kuang and her husband, a Bank of China manager, were convicted alongside another couple in 2008 for a scheme to defraud the Bank of China of at least $485m, the US department of justice said.

Evidence at their trial showed they schemed to launder some of their gains through casinos in Las Vegas, where they placed bets of up to $80 000.

Kuang was sentenced to eight years in prison and authorities also began moves to strip her of her fraudulently acquired US citizenship.

China's official news agency Xinhua said that authorities would carry out a "comprehensive investigation" into Kuang.

Xi has said that corruption threatens the ruling Communist Party's party's grip on power, and has launched a much-publicised anti-graft campaign.

Part of the effort is a campaign known as "Sky Net", aimed at repatriating alleged corrupt officials who have fled abroad.

The effort has raised concerns in Australia, where China reportedly dispatched law enforcers to pressure suspects without notifying Canberra.

Last week, former official Yang Jinjun, resident in the US for 14 years and suspected of "corruption and bribery", returned to China, the ruling Communist Party said.

Yang was named as one of China's 100 "most wanted" economic fugitives in a list released in April. Analysts said the list consisted mostly of low-level officials.

Most Western countries, including the US, do not have extradition agreements with China, where courts are overseen by the ruling party and the use of force by law enforcers to extract confessions is believed to be common.

There is no independent legal oversight of the Communist party's internal disciplinary investigations, which deny corruption suspects access to lawyers.

The death penalty is available for some corruption cases in China, which overseas rights groups say is the world's biggest executioner.

Read more on:    us  |  china

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