China seeks return of financial refugees

Prime Minister John Key, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, chat during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Photo / AP
Prime Minister John Key, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, chat during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Photo / AP

There are up to 60 Chinese financial refugees in New Zealand and China wants them back.

John Key's been meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang and says the issue of funds from graft being smuggled out of China was raised.

Key says New Zealand could enter into an extradition treaty with China, even though last year he said he wouldn't.

"It possible," Key told reporters in China.

"We won't extradite people to China unless they meet the condition that they wouldn't be subjected to either torture or the death penalty," he said.

"Operation Fox Hunt" began almost two years ago as part of China's crackdown on corruption and was among the topics raised with Key when the Chinese leader visited this country in November 2014.

Crown Law said late last year it had received no new requests for assistance from Chinese counterparts.

During that time, more than 850 fugitives from 66 countries returned to the People's Republic, Chinese media reported earlier this year.

This suggests that if any of these suspected criminals are in New Zealand, they've so far escaped the eye of their former Government.

Either that, or they have voluntarily turned themselves in to the Chinese police - as 366 people did last year.

When it launched the campaign, the Chinese Government estimated that 16,000 to 18,000 corrupt officials and employees of state-owned enterprises had fled with pilfered assets of more than 800 billion yuan ($166 billion) since the mid-1990s.

- NZ Herald

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