20 June 2011

More than 18,000 Chinese officials migrated over the last 15 years taking more than US$120 bn of corruptly acquired  assets with them. The People’s Bank of China reports that this smuggled money is often masked by business transactions. Despite continuing campaigns over recent years to minimise corruption, the level of fraud by officials, who by definition are Party members, threatens China’s economic and political stability.

Over the last five years more than 240,000 fraud investigations have taken place. Numerous officials on conviction have received death sentences, although many are commuted.  Recent high profile cases include the Minister of Railways who diverted $30 million from the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail project, and the party leader in Shanghai, who is serving an 18 year sentence for defrauding the region’s pension fund.

The report is that fraudulent assets were transferred in the main to the United States but substantial sums have also gone with migrants to Canada, the Netherlands and Australia. New Zealand is not mentioned.  The issue arises about immigration policies of countries that have a special category for high wealth individuals.  In the case of Chinese migrants, how is the lawfulness of that wealth verified, where the averred motivation for migration is to avoid government oppression – and that Chinese authorities would provide false information about the migrant.