BEIJING/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is set to finalise a deal with China to return ill-gotten assets seized from those suspected of economic crimes, the official China Daily reported on Monday, as Beijing works to track down corrupt officials who have fled overseas.
China has vowed to pursue a search, dubbed Operation “Fox Hunt”, beyond its borders for corrupt officials and business executives, and their assets.
But Western countries have balked at signing extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners. Rights groups say Chinese authorities use torture and that the death penalty is common in corruption cases.
With the deal, Canada, one of the top two destinations for suspected economic fugitives from China, would become the third country to agree to help Beijing deal with such offences, following offers this year from France and Australia.
The agreement will cover “the return of property related to people who would have fled to Canada and would have been involved in corrupt activities”, the China Daily reported Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s ambassador to the country, as saying in an interview.
China and Canada announced the deal in July 2013, but both countries are still in the course of ratifying it.
Canada’s Public Safety Ministry, which oversees the agency that handles deportation cases, said authorities had expelled 1,766 Chinese nationals from Jan 1, 2011 to Nov 7, 2014.
Although the vast majority were sent back for minor offenses such as overstaying a visa, 70 had committed serious crimes and a further seven had engaged in organised crime. The ministry did not give more details.
Canada has a policy of not sending people to countries where they might face execution.