Saturday, 20 October, 2018

China accuses former Interpol chief of graft

China says detained former Interpol chief is focus of bribery probe China confirms detaining missing ex-Interpol chief
Patty Aguilar | 12 October, 2018, 05:57

On Monday, Beijing confirmed that Meng, who was also a vice minister of public security in China, is being detained for alleged corruption. Chinese authorities say they're investigating him as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

Meng is the latest high-profile target to be ensnared in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by President Xi, who assumed power in 2012.

Meng, the first Chinese person to head Interpol, was at one time China's vice minister of public security, which oversees law enforcement in the country. On October 5, Interpol acknowledged reports of his disappearance and said it "looked forward to an official response" from China regarding his whereabouts. Presently, the Chinese nationals hold top positions at several global institutions including the UN, IMF, World Bank and UNESCO. It is widely apprehended that detention of Mr Meng would raise some concern among worldwide institutions and they could show reluctance in appointing Chinese officials to high positions in future. In a Sunday statement on Twitter, Interpol said that it had received Mr. Meng's resignation with immediate effect.

But the government's announcement did little to address concerns raised about the risks of appointing Chinese officials to leadership posts in worldwide organizations.

After days of concealing his fate from the global community, the public security ministry has revealed that the vice minister accepted bribes, providing no further details on the allegations or the conditions and location of Meng's apparent detention.

Meng Hongwei, 64, vanished from public view after taking a flight from France to Beijing in late September. Meng's leadership also provided a mechanism to legitimise China's global efforts to silence critics among its diaspora. Interpol has appointed Kim Jong Yang of South Korea as acting president.

"I find it regrettable that the top leader of the organisation had to go out this way and that we weren't specifically notified of what was happening in advance", Kim said.

Interpol had asked Chinese authorities for information about Meng Hongwei.

The Interpol tweeted it received Meng's resignation from his post.

"This has shown the Chinese government's firm resolve to crack down on corruption and crime", Lu said.

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The probe "fully shows there is no privilege and no exception in front of the law, and anyone who violates the law must be severely punished", the ministry added.

However, Lu did not directly answer questions about whether Meng would be formally arrested or allowed to hire a lawyer, or receive a visit from his wife.

That was an ominous follow-up to an earlier message, which had asked her to wait for Meng to call.

"Although I can't see my husband, we are always connected by heart", she said. "For the husband whom I deeply love, for my young children, for the people of my motherland, for all the wives and children's husbands and fathers to no longer disappear".

On Monday, China's Ministry of Public Security had said in a statement on its website "the investigation against Meng Hongwei's taking bribes and suspected violations of law is very timely, absolutely correct and rather wise".

It indicated that Meng, a member of the Communist Party, may have somehow been tainted by former security chief and ex-Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.

When Zhao announced the bribery case on Monday, he said Zhou had left a poisonous influence in the ministry - one that needed to be cleaned out.

Meng, 64, was named to the post of Interpol president in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key worldwide organizations.

In any case, Mr. Meng's abrupt and mysterious disappearance has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Chinese officials and the worldwide bodies that are increasingly giving them leadership roles.

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