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Beijing has pledged to better protect the personal assets of people being investigated or prosecuted for economic crimes in order to ease private sector fears over a lack of safeguards for personal security and wealth.

Police mustn’t dispose of assets owned by individuals who are under investigation or facing trial before they are convicted of business-related crimes such as embezzlement, bribery and fraud, according to a set of guidelines released Tuesday by the top prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of Public Security.

Investigators should also draw a clear line dividing ill-gotten gains and wealth amassed through legitimate means and differentiate between assets owned by suspects and those belonging to their families, according to the joint guidelines.

The guidelines came less than a week after the top prosecutor’s office, or the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, called for leniency toward those who “passively pay bribes.”

In a directive aimed at “strengthening a sense of personal and wealth security among entrepreneurs,” the top prosecutor’s office last week proposed lighter sentences for business owners who are forced to “involuntarily bribe” public officials who demand money in return for favors.

Prosecutors should also take into account whether those under investigation for alleged economic crimes have actively cooperated with corruption investigations, according to the directive. It calls upon prosecutors to play a role in creating a “proper environment for legitimate rights of businesspeople and their entrepreneurial innovations.”

The new guidelines and directives reemphasize principals that are already embedded in Chinese law, but may have been overlooked by law enforcement officials in the past.

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