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Sweden extradites Chinese 'multi-million-dollar money launderer' to US

[STOCKHOLM] Sweden has extradited to the United States a Chinese national suspected of laundering millions of dollars in Henan Province, his Swedish lawyer said Tuesday, a year after Stockholm rejected Beijing's extradition request.

A former official of the Chinese state grain administration, Qiao Jianjun is wanted by Beijing under a sweeping government campaign against corruption for embezzling 200 million yuan (S$40.6 million).

Qiao contests the accusations but his lawyer Henrik Olsson Lilja told AFP Tuesday his client, who lived in the United States after leaving China in 2011, was extradited last Friday.

The US Department of Justice issued a statement saying, "As the director of a grain storehouse in Zhoukou City, Henan Province, China, from 1998 to 2011, Qiao allegedly laundered millions of dollars in proceeds related to fraudulent transactions through banks in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore."

Part of the money was allegedly used to buy two properties near Los Angeles.

The statement said a federal grand jury in 2014 first indicted Qiao, while a superseding indictment in December 2018 charges him with conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and engaging in financial transactions in criminally derived property.

Last July, Sweden's top court rejected an extradition request from Beijing because of a "real risk" of persecution and the death penalty in China.

His lawyer questioned how Sweden rejected China's extradition request but accepted that of the United States.

"In the US he is suspected of money laundering and the basis of that is that he is supposed to have committed crimes in China.

"Now this will be tried in the US ... and then they will hopefully demand better evidence than the Chinese authorities just saying these are illicit funds."

Qiao was detained in Sweden in June 2018 at China's request.

He was released on 19 June 2019 only to be again arrested a week later in another case, this time at US behest.

According to court documents, Qiao started travelling between China and the US after gaining a visa in 2009.

He decided to permanently leave China in 2011 after joining the "China Democracy Party" and entered the US with his family.

Later he moved to Austria and on to Sweden in 2014 together with his new wife, an Austrian citizen.

The Swedish government officially makes the final decision on extradition matters, but is obliged to follow Supreme Court rulings.

AFP

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