CHINA - The French government will assist the Chinese judiciary by confiscating the illegal assets many corrupt officials have transferred to France, a senior official from the French Ministry of Justice has said. France and China will share the seized funds.
Robert Gelli, director of the Criminal Affairs Department of the French Ministry of Justice, said that in the following weeks the ministry will strengthen cooperation with its Chinese counterparts to track down corrupt Chinese officials and uncover their transferred funds.
"We will try to locate the ill-gotten funds that Chinese corrupt officials sent to France and take immediate actions to freeze them, such as houses, cars and bank savings and other investments," Gelli said.
"In addition, for each individual case, we will negotiate with our Chinese counterparts to share the seized funds in a proper proportion," he said.
In recent years, a number of economic fugitives, including many corrupt officials, have fled to the United Sates, Canada, Australia and European countries such as the Netherlands and France, to avoid Chinese judicial authorities.
"Most are government officials, executives or senior managers in State-owned companies who are accused of corruption, accepting bribes or embezzlement," said Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Judicial Assistance and Foreign Affairs Department of the Ministry of Justice.
Celine Guillet, a senior official from the Criminal Affairs Department of the French Ministry of Justice, said that although a Sino-French bilateral extradition treaty is still waiting for approval by the French Parliament, the two sides will enhance judicial cooperation to nab fugitives and uncover their illegal assets in accordance with mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and other reciprocity regulations.
Huang Feng, a law professor at Beijing Normal University who specializes in extradition issues, said the confiscation and sharing of seized assets between China and other countries is consistent with international practice.
For example, the judiciary in the US, Japan and Singapore have agreements with other countries to share seized ill-gotten funds and China will sign a formal agreement with Canada to return and share seized assets, he said.
Last month, China and Australia agreed to enhance judicial cooperation on extradition of corrupt officials, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Australian judicial authorities have a priority list of 100 suspected Chinese economic fugitives and they will conduct joint operations within weeks, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
By the end of August, China had signed 51 mutual legal assistance agreements for criminal matters and 39 bilateral extradition treaties, according to the Ministry of Justice.