November 6, 2014 / 4:34 AM / in 3 years

APEC set to endorse anti-graft network

BEIJING (Reuters) - Asia Pacific countries are set to agree on an anti-corruption transparency network, a top APEC official said on Thursday, allowing law enforcement agencies to track illicit cash flows across borders as well as people suspected of graft.

China's President Xi Jinping arrives before the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The network, led by China but also pushed forward by the United States, would open up channels for law enforcement agencies to share information and prosecute cases across national borders, Alan Bollard, executive director of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat, told a briefing.

“This group will try and bring together the actual operational people who will share information on particular cases, share information about how to get convictions and prosecutions and, if necessary, get assets back,” Bollard said.

“This is necessary to actually track cases across borders and to follow up on assets that are illegally moved across economies.”

It is the first such network APEC had worked to set up aside from a separate deal on antitrust issues, he said.

China’s President Xi Jinping has sought to widen his far-reaching anti-graft campaign to suspects who have fled abroad, particularly those who have taken their ill-gotten gains with them.

It is unclear whether the plan would reference extradition of officials suspected of corruption.

Western governments have balked at setting up extradition deals because torture is often used by Chinese legal authorities to extract confessions, and capital punishment is widely meted out for crimes, including corruption.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the network would be based at the training arm of the ruling Communist Party’s top anti-graft body, which has the power to imprison and investigate party officials without charge.

China has extradition treaties with 38 countries, but not the United States, Canada or Australia - the three most popular destinations for suspected economic criminals, according to state media.

It did not appear that APEC members will challenge China’s bid to host the anti-graft network, whose initial mandate will run through 2015, the Journal said.

The network, which the newspaper said would be called Act-Net, would ease the flow of information between law enforcement agencies, but it would not be a regional version of Interpol, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jeremy Laurence

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