China's financial fugitives accused of laundering funds into U.S. and Canada

Within the United States alone 40 suspects are in hiding, according to Beijing, and Washington’s cooperation is being sought after in the extradition of the fugitives.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  May 15, 2015 at 10:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- China's latest anti-corruption drive is focusing on Chinese immigrants in the United States and Canada – high net-worth individuals who are being accused of embezzlement.

Operation Sky Net listed 100 financial fugitives who have fled China since the 1990s, reported The New York Times on Friday. The South China Morning Post reported the Interpol alerts included a prominent businessman in Vancouver who is presiding over key real estate developments.

Within the United States alone 40 suspects are in hiding, according to Beijing, and Washington's cooperation is being sought after in the extradition of the fugitives, many who have laundered their misappropriated funds into real estate purchases.

China's list includes He Yejun, who changed his name to Wei Chen after obtaining U.S. citizenship. In 2014, Chen's business partner sued him, citing $50 million in missing funds from a Florida development project. Records indicate that Chen has purchased a $2 million condo near Miami, a Bentley and a 70-foot yacht. Beijing has accused Chen of stealing funds, before fleeing to the United States in the late 1990s.

In Canada, a well-known property developer was identified as a Chinese financial fugitive. Michael Ching, the chief executive of Mo Yeung International Enterprise, was wanted in Hebei province for transferring illegal funds more than a decade earlier. Ching, known as Cheng Muyang by Chinese officials, was connected to his father Cheng Weigao, who as party chief of Hebei was charged with corruption in 2003.

Ching, who is one of the 100 financial fugitives listed on Operation Sky Net, is a major Vancouver property developer.

Both the U.S. and Canada do not have extradition treaties with Beijing, due to concerns about human rights abuses and excessive punishment in China.

But the State Department has said cooperation with China is welcomed though within limitations. Washington and Beijing also have agreed to improve mutual cooperation on the repatriation of financial fugitives and illegal residents.

Not all fugitives' names were not made public, however. The New York Times reported Chinese media reported Beijing has sent Washington a more extensive list of 150 fugitives hiding in the United States.

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