China says ex-Chinese Interpol chief took bribe, under probe

12 October, 2018, 05:57 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • China says detained former Interpol chief is focus of bribery probe

The former Chinese head of Interpol, who went missing last month, was accused of accepting bribes on Monday, becoming the latest top official to fall in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption dragnet.

On Sunday night, China officially confirmed that Meng is being investigated for suspected breach of law and a lengthy statement by Chinese Ministry of Public Security said he is being probed for bribery and other crimes but did not elaborate.

China's move to go after the Interpol president, an official with worldwide standing, was unusually audacious even for an administration that under Xi's leadership has sought to assert its interests more aggressively on the global stage.

Such targets, who have been subject to arbitrary detention and made unexplained disappearances, include pro-democracy activists, human rights lawyers, officials accused of graft or political disloyalty and the estimated one million ethnic minority Muslims who have vanished into internment camps in the country's far west.

In her first one-on-one interview since her husband's disappearance in China, the wife of the former head of Interpol described the threatening phone call that prompted authorities in the French city where the worldwide law enforcement agency is headquartered to place her under police protection. His wife has since reported him missing.

Meng spent decades working in Chinese law enforcement before his Interpol appointment, reaching the title of vice minister for public security.

Mr. Caster contrasted China's handling of Mr. Meng with the criminal allegations that ended the career of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Meng's detention is nearly tantamount to a conviction.

Interpol said Sunday that Meng had resigned and would be temporarily replaced by a South Korean official until a new election in November - hours after China's anti-graft body, the National Supervisory Commission, said he was under investigation for violating unspecified laws.

A new president will be elected for the remaining two years of Mr. Meng's tenure during a general assembly meeting in Dubai next month.

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Mr. Meng has already become one of the most spectacular examples of how Mr. Xi's drive for control offers little safety for officials, even for senior representatives of global organizations.

"We should resolutely oppose corruption and resolutely eliminate the pernicious influence of Zhou Yongkang", the statement by the Ministry of Public Security said.

Mr. Zhao, the minister of public security, hinted at the meeting on Monday that Mr. Meng's misdeeds were part of the "toxic residues" left by Zhou Yongkang, the once-powerful, grim-faced former chief of domestic security who was imprisoned for life on corruption charges in 2015. It added, "insistence on doing things in his own way means he has only himself to blame for being placed under investigation". "It fully shows that there are no special privileges or exceptions before the law".

Speaking in Lyon, the southeast French city where the global police organisation is based, she said the last social media message she received from her husband came on September 25, depicting a single knife emoji.

A journalist holds the mobile phone of Grace, the wife of the missing Interpol president Meng Hongwei - showing what she says is the last message exchanged with her husband - during a press conference in Lyon, France, October 7, 2018.

That day, Grace Meng said he sent a message telling her to "wait for my call", before sending the emoji signifying danger.

"Xi requires absolute loyalty", said Willy Lam, the assumption that the investigators have doubts as to the fidelity of Mr. Meng to the line presidential.

As president of Interpol, he was based in Lyon, the French city where the organization has its headquarters, and he regularly gave speeches promoting Interpol's priorities and China's contribution to them.

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