Chinese Deputy Minister of Public Security Meng Hongmei said on Monday that Interpol’s resigning boss is suspected of bribing himself by accepting bribes.
Interpol’s resigning boss, China’s Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongmei, is said to have accepted illegal gratuities, Beijing said Monday, a few hours after he announced that Meng was under investigation.
Mr. Meng “has accepted bribes and is suspected of breaking the law,” the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement, without providing any details on the charges. This statement is presented as a report of a meeting held Monday in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cell of the Ministry of Public Security (police).
The text does not specify whether the accusations attributed to Mr. Meng fall within his ministerial functions or those he exercised at Interpol. It is also unclear whether he was detained or not.
The investigation “clearly illustrates the determination of comrade Xi Jinping,” the Chinese president, to fight corruption, says the ministry.
“No one, without exception, is above the law. Anyone who violates the laws will be thoroughly investigated and severely punished, “the statement said, adding that other suspects were being prosecuted as part of the investigation.
An open investigation
In the night, the ruling CPC Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission, charged with cracking down on the corruption of officials, said Meng Hongwei was “currently under investigation because he is suspected of breaking the law,” without further details. Interpol, based in Lyon, announced Sunday the resignation “with immediate effect” of its president, missing for more than ten days after returning to China. His wife, Grace Meng, who reported her “worrying” disappearance to the French police on Thursday, told reporters in Lyon (central eastern France), the world headquarters of Interpol, that her husband aged 64, was “in danger”.
Speaking to reporters, she revealed that the last message she received from her husband’s phone, on September 25th when he had just arrived in China, included only an emoticon representing a knife.
An investigation for disappearance had been opened in France and Paris had announced Friday its “interrogation” on the situation of Mr. Meng, saying “concerned” by the threats received by his wife.
A vast anti-corruption campaign
Meng, appointed late 2016 as head of Interpol, is far from being the first Chinese official to succumb to the campaign against corruption launched by Xi Jinping since he came to power at the end of 2012. Popular in public opinion this campaign, which has sanctioned more than 1.5 million executives, is also suspected of being used to eliminate internal opponents of Xi’s line.
But the case of Mr. Meng, who has climbed the ladder of the Chinese security apparatus at the time when it was led by a rival of President Xi Jinping, is a first in large international institutions. The rival, Zhou Yongkang, is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2015 for bribery, abuse of power and disclosure of “state secrets”.
The brutal resignation of the boss of Interpol could complicate the efforts of the most populous country in the world to be better represented on the world stage.
“The international organizations may think twice before considering having a Chinese boss,” observes Washington’s Bonnie Glaser, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. On Saturday, the secretary general of the police organization in the 192 member countries, the German Jürgen Stock, which conducts its daily operations, asked China “a clarification” on the situation of Meng Hongwei.
The police cooperation organization in the 192 member countries was chaired by Mr. Meng since November 2016.
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