TICKER: Chinese official ‘flees country with £20m public money’

Wang Guoqiang, the party secretary in Liaoning province’s Fengcheng, is believed to have fled China in April although the case only came to the public eye this week after online speculation about his whereabouts — and bank balance.

Mr Wang, who is now believed to be in the United States with his wife and daughter, reportedly fled China after coming under investigation for alleged corruption.

A report on state-run CCTV said Mr Wang had been made Fengcheng’s party chief in 2008 but was fired in April this year.

One month before losing his job Mr Wang obtained a multiple-entry visa for the US at a consulate in China. On April 24 he flew out of the country with his wife and has not been heard from since, CCTV claimed.

Song Ximei, a propaganda official from Liaoning province, confirmed that Mr Wang had abandoned his homeland but declined to say whether authorities believed he had taken 200 million yuan with him.

Lin Xuebiao, a legal director from Fujian province, told the China Daily newspaper authorities should consider creating an “early warning system” to identify politicians who planned to flee the country. “This kind of escape is premeditated,” he said.

Mr Wang’s alleged escape to America appears to make him the latest example of what is known in China as a “luo guan” or “naked official” — politicians who move their families and sometimes private fortunes abroad, often so they are out of reach of potential corruption investigations back home.

In 2011 an official report issued by China’s Central Bank claimed that as many as 18,000 corrupt Communist Party officials and government employees had slipped off the map with public money since the mid-1990s.

Between them the officials had spirited some 800 billion yuan out of the country, the report claimed.

In an editorial the Global Times newspaper lashed out at what it said was a lack of government transparency in releasing details about Mr Wang’s mysterious flight.

“Covering over scandals only lets them fester,” the newspaper said.* “*No matter how bad the news is, it will reach the public sooner or later.” The Global Times described Mr Wang’s sudden disappearance as “certainly a scandal” but rejected the idea that disclosing information about corruption cases would prove terminal for Beijing.

“A single piece of news, no matter how bad it is, will not overthrow China nowadays.”


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