Fox Hunt: China ‘most wanted’ notice has Australian family fearing witch hunt

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A Sydney resident being hunted by the Chinese government for alleged corruption has an Australian wife and child, and fears the case against him has been politicised, his family has revealed for the first time.

Picture: Leafy Ethel Street, Burwood, identified as the home suburb of one of China’s most wanted. Photo: Nick Moir

China’s corruption investigator last week published the names and possible overseas addresses of 22 suspects subject to Interpol ‘red notices’. It claimed they had fled overseas and called for overseas Chinese to inform on them.

Ji Dongsheng was said to be living in Ethel Street, Burwood, in Sydney.

China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection alleges he misappropriated client funds when he was the manager of the Henan Securities branch in Zhengzhou. Mr Ji was alleged to have told IT staff to allow client’s guarantee funds to be used for share trading, which led to severe losses.

But a relative of Mr Ji, who sponsored him to migrate to Australia with his wife and child in 2001, has told Fairfax Media he wasn’t responsible for the client’s losses, because he was following instructions.

“During the time Mr Ji worked in Henan Securities in Zhengzhou, he acted according to the company’s instructions […] The share market was new in China and the government had few regulations for this area of business,” said Mr Ji’s sister-in-law, who asked that her name not be published.

“At the time, the way the company operated was common practice in China, while some of the operations were later regarded as inappropriate or illegal.”

Mr Ji didn’t “flee”, but came to Australia on a skilled migration visa that took several years to process, she said.

“The Chinese investigation started after he moved to Australia. When the Chinese government asked who was responsible for the company’s actions, he was not there to defend himself.”

When she visited China last year, she was questioned several times by Chinese police about Mr Ji.

The Chinese police asked her to persuade Mr Ji to return to China, and told her the issue was “not serious” because the practice he is accused of was common among security firms in China at the time.

But when she asked for the Interpol red notice to be removed, she was told by Chinese police this wasn’t possible because “it has become a political issue now”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown has reached the upper levels of the Chinese Communist party. Operations Sky Net and Fox Hunt have been highly publicised as the means to “catch” corrupt officials who have fled overseas. The corruption watchdog is publicly counting down how many on its Top 100 wanted list are returned.

The sister-in-law said Mr Ji and his wife were “disturbed, confused and worried” about the latest move by the Chinese authorities to call for overseas whistleblowers.

She is concerned that Australia will potentially sign an extradition treaty with China, which will have “a serious impact” on Mr Ji , who is a permanent Australian resident, and his family, who are Australian citizens.

“It will not help to bring justice because China’s system is different. Political goals are often given more priority than legal justice,” she said.

Australia doesn’t have an extradition treaty with China. Labor last month refused to support a Turnbull government bill to ratify a treaty agreed with China a decade ago, because of human rights concerns.

But the Turnbull Government has told China it will seek to speed up approval of the extradition treaty, and a fortnight ago agreed to greater law enforcement cooperation with China.

Canada, the United States and New Zealand, the other locations listed for the 22 suspects, similarly don’t have extradition treaties with China.

By Kirsty Needham

Sydney Morning Herald

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