MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - Australian police are set to aid the Chinese government’s fight against corruption, detaining fugitives for extradition to China and seizing illegal assets in Australia, Xinhua reported.
Australian Federal Police are set to carry out the operation as part of a wider Chinese anti-corruption drive, code-named “Operation Fox Hunt”, which was launched in July. A list of high-priority suspects from among a group of “less than a hundred” alleged crooked officials was drafted by Australian and Chinese police, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
The joint operation, unprecedented in its scope, is set to go after funds totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Along with the United States and Canada, Australia is one of the most popular destinations for crooked Chinese officials and businessmen, the source noted.
Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry expressed concern about Australia’s new ‘Premium Investor Visa’ initiative, which would allow immigrants permanent resident status in a year if they invest A$15 million (USD 13 million). The Chinese were worried that corrupt officials would try to use the law to escape justice in their own country, ChannelNewsAsia.com said.
In an interview with the Australian media group Fairfax Media, Australian Federal Police Chief of Asia Operations Bruce Hill noted that the officials usually “don’t all of a sudden leave overnight and take a bag of money with them. In some cases, they’re very carefully planned.” Hill explained that officials often first send their spouses and children overseas, putting their ill-gotten gains “into legitimate assets such as houses and property and shares and bank accounts and then the money becomes their wealth,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.
“But it's never been their money to start with in the first place; it's the corrupt money flowing out of China,” Hill explained. He added that Australian authorities are “trying to develop strategies to make sure these people don’t think they can just go to Australia and live happily ever after.”
Australia and China will be cooperating in the operation on the basis of the treaty on judicial assistance and extradition the two countries signed in 2008.
“The Chinese government is resolute in fighting against corruption and chasing fugitives and illegal assets overseas. Corrupt officials should be brought to justice wherever they flee,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated at a press briefing, Xinhua said.