22 October 2014

Media yesterday carried an extraordinary report of Australia Federal Police acting with the cooperation and advice of Chinese officials to seize assets from migrant Chinese.  The AFP is pursuing hundreds of millions of dollars laundered in Australia by former Chinese officials.  The AFP will seek forfeiture orders for assets of people who entered as business migrants, many of whom are now Australian citizens. The Chinese have provided a priority list of suspects.

A common pattern is that spouses and children who move to Australia for education purposes, then provide a conduit for transferring funds.. The other  spouse continues working in China but is able to join their family should there be suspicions about their conduct.  The AFP has indicated that  “….as time goes on, they start to put  funds into legitimate assets such as houses, property, shares and bank accounts as the money becomes their wealth, but it’s never been their money to start with.”

President Xi Jinping has led an anticorruption drive to catch up with this expatriation of funds, estimated by the Washington-based Global Financial Integrity group, as about $US3 trillion over the period between 2005 and 2011.

Since taking power in November 2012, President Xi Jinping’s strategy seems to be to regain credibility by playing to the public, disillusioned with endemic graft in the Communist Party, and to intimidate his opponents.

Public servants now find it difficult to go abroad. Department heads now have few opportunities to travel as their passports are withheld.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry hopes to work with Australia “… to trace fugitives and retrieve embezzlement from overseas…The corrupt should find no safe haven in foreign countries..!”

An extradition treaty with China has yet to be finalised but as both are States Members of the UN Convention Against Corruption, Australia must consider any Convention related extradition request.  Migrants who haven’t yet gained Australian citizenship are able to apply for asylum to avoid being handed to Chinese authorities. There has been no public discussion yet about deprivation of citizenship on the basis of falsified applications.