China targets ‘black banks’ in latest anti-graft crackdown

Beijing, Oct 16 (IANS) The Chinese government is stepping up its latest anti-graft crackdown on illegal lending and money-laundering operations in a bid to prevent outbound flow of stolen assets.

The public security ministry said “black banks” and illegal currency exchanges have facilitated the flights of a number of former government officials and senior managers of state-owned companies accused of corrupt activities, the China Daily reported.

Most have absconded to popular destinations, such as the US and Australia, where a lack of bilateral extradition treaties and differences in international law and legal process ensure they are safe from extradition.

Towards the end of August, the ministry began a three month operation targeting underground lenders, money launderers and offshore funds.

Meng Qingfeng, vice-minister of public security, said the ministry will work closely with the People’s Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange to share information and establish a mechanism to coordinate and conduct rapid investigations into suspicious outbound flows of assets.

Corrupt officials or business leaders secretly planning to leave the country have used a network of underground banks to send “millions of dollars” of illegally obtained assets overseas, according to officials.

So far, more than 230 suspects have been apprehended in many major cases, and more than 100 black banks have been closed down, ending operations thought to have netted about 670 billion yuan ($105 billion).

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