Corrupt officials fled China with huge sums of money secretly transferred from Hong Kong or via underground banks. Picture: Skyworth Digital chairman Huang Hongshen (right). (Photo/CFP)
As many as 18,000 corrupt Chinese officials may have fled the country with up to 800 billion yuan (US$123.52 billion) in ill-gotten gains in the last twenty years, according to a report released by the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank.
Higher-ranking officials tended to flee to developed countries such as the United States and Canada or to Southeast Asia, as well as 18 small countries and regions, the report said. While money was laundered primarily through Hong Kong and Macau, cash was also smuggled through underground financial institutions in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, it added.
The report by the bank's anti-money laundering monitoring and analysis centre noted that large sums of money had been siphoned out of the country by 16,000-18,000 high-ranking officials, party workers and employees stationed in China-funded organizations in foreign countries between the mid-1990s and 2008, the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao said.
Some officials took advantage of passing through Hong Kong as an international aviation hub, or used the privilege of Hong Kong people to apply for visas in the UK upon arrival to flee to other countries.
The report pointed out that most of the embezzlers who had fled worked in Hong Kong, including Yu Zhendong, the head of the Bank of China's Guangdong Kaiping branch. He was accused of embezzling one billion yuan (US$154.4 million) in public money for more than eight years up to 2001 before fleeing via Hong Kong.
Another example is Huang Hongshen, the chairman of Hong Kong Skyworth Digital Holdings: he was charged with siphoning HK$40 million (US$5.13 million) from the bank accounts of his relatives. Huang was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring to defraud the company in 2006.
The report also listed eight methods used by Chinese corrupt officials to transfer their assets to foreign countries: cash smuggling, remittances, falsifying current accounts, overseas investments, credit card shopping, offshore financial centers, direct overseas remittances and accounts of relatives.
Yu Zhendong 余振東
Bank of China 中國銀行
Huang Hongshen 黃宏生
Skyworth Digital Holdings 創維數碼