20 Jun 2019

Former Interpol chief admits guilt in Chinese court hearing

8:01 pm on 20 June 2019

Chinese state media are reporting former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei has admitted taking about $4 million in bribes.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 4, 2017, Meng Hongwei, president of Interpol, speaks at the opening of the Interpol World Congress in Singapore.

Former Interpol president Meng Hongwei, who was reported missing by his wife in 2017 after he returned to China, has been reported by Chinese state media as having admitted to taking 14.5m yuan in bribes. Photo: AFP or licensors

Mr Meng's admission that he took 14.5 million yuan ($US2.11m) in bribes came during a court hearing in the northern city of Tianjin, the official People's Daily newspaper reported.

"Meng Hongwei made final remarks, and admitted guilt and expressed remorse to the court," it said.

It was not clear who Mr Meng's lawyer is and it was not possible to reach him or a legal representative for comment. Chinese courts are tightly controlled by the Communist Party, and Mr Meng is almost certain to be found guilty.

His wife, who has been granted asylum in France, said the charges against him were politically motivated.

Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, last October said Mr Meng had resigned as its president, days after his wife reported him missing after he travelled back to his home country of China.

In March, the ruling Communist Party said its investigation into Mr Meng found he spent "lavish" amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow party decisions.

Reporting the admission today, the People's Daily added that Mr Meng's alleged crimes in various positions - including when he was deputy minister of public security and head of China's coast guard - went back to 2005.

The court would announce its verdict at a later date, it said.

Mr Meng became Interpol president in late 2016 as China widened its bid to secure leadership posts in international organisations.

His appointment prompted concern at the time from rights groups that China might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents abroad.

President Xi Jinping has presided over a sweeping corruption crackdown since coming to power in 2012, vowing to target both "tigers" and "flies", a reference to elite officials and ordinary bureaucrats.

The campaign has led to the jailing or punishment of thousands of officials and brought down dozens of senior party and military officials.

Beyond graft issues, the anti-corruption effort has taken aim at those who express doubt in public about party policies or are found lacking in political loyalty.

China has rebuffed criticism that the campaign is as much about settling political scores as about stamping out criminal acts.

- Reuters

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