Mainland anti-graft officials admitted the problem of mainland criminals laundering money through Hong Kong have not been “properly tackled.”
At a seminar on financial crime yesterday, Guo Xingwang, director-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate’s International Cooperation Department, said: “We have been collaborating with Hong Kong and Macau a lot on financial investigations. But we have to step up the efforts, both on financial investigation and assets recovery.
“The problem of laundering internationally through Hong Kong had not been properly tackled yet,” Guo told the seminar hosted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Wei Cai, deputy director in the Ministry of Supervision Department of International Cooperation, said President Xi Jinping has adopted a “zero- tolerance approach” toward corruption.
About 202,000 Chinese Communist Party members have been investigated since 2012, with 103,000 receiving disciplinary sanctions, Wei said. Among them were 240 officials at the vice minister level or above – 3.6 times the level of the previous five years, he said. Some 6,600 members were at the director-general level.
From 2014 to March this year, authorities recovered more than 8 billion yuan (HK$9.02 billion) from 2,800 “fugitives” in 19 regions.
“President Xi has commented on anti-corruption over 50 times on major diplomatic occasions,” Wei said. “Corruption is the enemy of all humanity. No country is immune to it. Only by cooperation can we achieve a win-win outcome.”
?ICAC chief Simon Peh Yun-lu said Hong Kong and the mainland have been working together under a “mutual assistance” basis.
“We must understand Hong Kong adheres to the one country, two systems,” Peh said.
Director of Public Prosecutions ?Keith Yeung Kar-hung said there have been increasing financial intelligence exchanges between Hong Kong and overseas investigators. In 2015, there were 1,974 exchanges, up from 1,270 in 2012.
Speaking from the perspective of a prosecutor, Yeung said financial investigation is a “powerful weapon.”
He added: “These are objective facts and beyond disputes. But there are still difficulties arising from borderless corruption and legal restraints.”
Peh was asked about the UGL case – currently under ICAC investigation – in which Chief Executive Leung Chun- ying received HK$50 million from the Australian company.
However, Peh refused to comment on the probe’s progress, saying he would not say anything about “individual cases.”
?Other speakers included Dimitri Vlassis, from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and David Green, director of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.?
The two-day event has attracted more than 240 anti-graft professionals.