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China eyes corruption extradition treaty with Australia: report

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Australian Financial Review that the treaty would be part of a declaration against corruption to be signed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing.

[SYDNEY] Australia is considering an extradition treaty with China to assist Beijing in repatriating corrupt officials, a report said Monday, as Asia-Pacific ministers backed attempts to deepen anti-graft efforts.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Australian Financial Review that the treaty would be part of a declaration against corruption to be signed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing.

"China has requested one and it's under consideration, with a number of other countries," Bishop said in Beijing.

"It's a Chinese operation in pursuit of Chinese economic fugitives abroad," she said.

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Since taking office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made the graft fight a central theme of his administration as public anger swells over widespread corruption.

In July, China launched its so-called "Fox Hunt" - a campaign to repatriate corrupt officials or their family members who have moved abroad, taking ill-gotten gains with them.

Australia is considered a haven for corrupt Chinese officials, with their money thought to find its way into legitimate assets such as property and bank accounts.

The two-day APEC forum beginning Monday in Beijing comes ahead of a meeting of the world's biggest economies at the G20 talks in Australia this weekend, at which activists have also urged leaders to address corruption.

Transparency International and partners, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, issued an open letter calling on the G20 to stop the flow of stolen money and end financial secrecy.

"As long as there are places in the global financial system where illicit financial flows can find a safe harbour and there are people to help hide these funds there will be millions more around the world who suffer," it said.

The letter, also signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, claimed some $1 trillion was siphoned from developing countries each year via opaque corporate ownership structures which allow them evade tax or hide funds.

"G20 governments must collect and publish the identity of the real, living people who ultimately own and control companies and other legal entities to make it easier to track the origin of corrupt or illicit funds," it said.

"They should publish information about revenue, profits, numbers of staff, tax liabilities and taxes paid on a country-by-country basis.

"This needs to be public for citizens to see the impact of companies in their communities and to make it easier to scrutinise where money is earned and where it may be going missing," it added.

AFP

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