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Top Figure in China Graft Scandal Held, Canada Says

November 25, 2000|Associated Press

VANCOUVER, Canada — Canadian police have arrested the central figure in China's biggest corruption scandal, who had been on the run for more than a year, officials said Friday.

Lai Changxing and a woman identified as Tsang Mingna were detained in the Vancouver area Thursday night by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on immigration warrants, said Canadian government officials in Vancouver and Beijing.

Lai's Yuanhua Group, based in the busy southeastern port of Xiamen, operated a massive scheme that smuggled cars, oil, cigarettes and other goods worth $6.4 billion into China and cost the Chinese treasury $3.6 billion in lost import duties, according to government prosecutors.

Chinese authorities have accused Lai of spending lavishly to buy official protection in a web of corruption that reached the top of the ruling Communist Party.

Courts in Xiamen and four other cities in Fujian province earlier this month sentenced 14 people to death in the case, including police and government officials. In all, 84 people were convicted in the first round of trials involving the smuggling ring. Lai has not been convicted.

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