Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Interpol asks China for status of its missing president

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol Meng Hongwei president of Interpol
Leonard Rios | 08 October, 2018, 13:56

Meng's wife lives in Lyon and recently contacted French police after not hearing from her husband since he traveled to China in late September.

The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has officially demanded a clarification from China on the disappearance of Chinese Interpol president Meng Hongwei.

The Post said Meng was listed on the website of China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice minister, but added that he lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee, the real decision-making body, in April.

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Roderic Broadhurst, a professor of criminology at Australian National University, said Meng's disappearance would be "pretty disconcerting" for people in global bodies that work with China, and could harm China's efforts to develop cooperative legal assistance measures with other countries.

The newspaper said that upon landing last week Meng was "taken away" for questioning by what it said were "discipline authorities".

Meng's family has been placed under police protection following the "worrying disappearance", the ministry said.

Diplomats say the role of Interpol president is largely ceremonial, with day-to-day work carried out by its secretary general, Juergen Stock, and his staff.

Meng rose up the ranks of the country's domestic security apparatus when it was under the leadership of Zhou Yongkang, a rival to Xi and the highest-ranking official to be brought down on corruption charges. "France is puzzled about the situation of Interpol's president and concerned about the threats made to his wife".

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"Yellow notices" are issued for missing persons.

Mr Meng was elected president of Interpol in November 2016 and his term runs until 2020.

Meng has held various positions within China's security establishment, including as a vice minister of public security since 2004.

Mr Xi has also placed a premium on obtaining the return of officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption from overseas, making Mr Meng's position all the more sensitive.

People have been known to disappear into the commission's custody for weeks or even months without a word.

Fan Bingbing pictured in 2017.

Her whereabouts remain unknown.

Critics suggested that Meng's election gave Beijing a chance to enlist more global help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign. But on Thursday, Chinese tax authorities spoke publicly about her disappearance, ordering her and companies she represents to pay taxes and penalties totalling $130 million US. Still out of the public eye, she issued a statement apologizing for her actions.

French police have described the matter as a "worrying disappearance".

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