China vows to fight Corruption as Policymakers helped promote it
Grete Chan, 21 February 2013
While the new president of the People’s Republic of China promises great improvements in terms of fighting corruption and seeking to downsize the largest political party in the world by ridding ‘unqualified members’, policymakers are seeking to ban property ‘name searches’. As authorities in Zhangzhou (Fujian Province) and Yancheng (Jiangsu Province) banned its residents from searching for property ownership history under the owner’s name, the Beijing Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction reportedly issued an internal memo forbidding its employees to search property holdings by owner name. The reasoning behind this is for ‘privacy protection’.
Netizens are concerned that this could be a front to allow corrupt politicians to grow their wealth undetected as a reaction when Jinping announced to fight ‘tigers and flies‘. One of the most popular destination now for wealthy politicians to to dump their money is in Hong Kong SAR, to take advantage of certain loopholes that pops up now and then.
Even though Hong Kong SAR has their own database to search for the transaction history of properties, the prohibition in China will prove difficult to trace the complete history, thus cutting off the trail of due diligence, allowing for greater outbound of ill gotten funds.
Whether this move was supported by the PRC president, that is the question, but as the president opens up China and tries to show a new face to the world, the policymakers shuts the door again in the shadows.
China released Interpretation of the Handling of Criminal Bribery Cases
Grete Chan, 14 January 2013
I thought I’d kick off 2013 sitting in a coffee shop in Hong Kong to bring you the latest judiciary interpretation of bribery of government officials in China.
As new president Xi Jinping takes over the reigns of the Communist Party in China and delivers his promise to fight bribery and corruption, the Supreme People’s Court, and its top prosecutorial body, released an “Interpretation of Several Issues Concerning the Specific Application of the Law in the Handling of Criminal Bribery Cases” which became effective as law on 1 January 2013.
The interpretation purports harsher criminal liability on bribery thresholds of more than RMB 10,000 (US $1,600) to a state functionary, and also defines what would be a “serious case” of bribery for bribes amounting to over RMB 200,000. Furthermore, the interpretation also continues with bribery considered as “very serious case” where it is over RMB 500,000 and “seriously harms” public interest or endanger lives or property. Furthermore, bribes which leads to losses of over RMB 5 million or any other serious circumstances are classified as “very serious case”.
Bribers (both individual and entity) however, have criminal liability and penalty waivers available should they voluntarily confess to bribery prior to prosecution, as long as the bribe was not used to commit criminal act, bribe offered to more than three persons and that it did not lead to harmful consequences.
The interpretation also furthers to allow illegal property interests obtained through bribery are to be returned to the victim. It also provides a definition to capture those under to “seek improper benefits” in bribery crim.
For an unofficial translation of the interpretation document is available here by Covington & Burling.