Yang Xiuzhu, China’s most wanted fugitive, who fled the country in 2003 and is accused of embezzling over $40 million, is in U.S. custody, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency. China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) reportedly said that Yang was held in the U.S. last year after she entered the country with a fake Dutch passport.
The agency said that Yang, who was arrested in May 2005 in the Netherlands, had escaped last May after she was rejected a political asylum and before she could be deported to China, Bloomberg reported. The latest revelation about her location comes even as the Global Times, a state-run newspaper, reported last month that Yang's extradition process had begun through related international rules, according to Taiwan-based Want China Times.
Bloomberg reported, citing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, that a person with the same name as Yang Xiuzhu and born in the same year as her, was taken into custody at the Hudson County correctional facility in New Jersey.
Last year, China released a list of 100 fugitives during a campaign called Sky Net, which aimed to bring them back to the country. China had earlier said that 40 of the 100 were suspected to be in the U.S.
“The momentum of cooperation with the U.S. is very good,” Fu Kui, the director of international cooperation at the CCDI, said on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg, referring to the Sky Net campaign. “There has been some progress and examples of success and there is room for greater cooperation."
Yang, formerly the deputy mayor of the Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province, was also the provincial deputy construction bureau chief in 2003, Want China Times reported. A 2004 Wenzhou official report found that Yang had amassed 253.2 million yuan ($40.9 million), of which 42.4 million yuan ($6.84 million) has been brought back by the government.
In 1996, Yang also reportedly bought a five-story building in Manhattan's West 29th Street for an unknown amount, the New York Times reported last month. In 2004, when a property manager tried to evict a tenant from the premises, the tenant filed a case with the Supreme Court that Yang was a Chinese fugitive. Around the same time, Yang transferred the property for $550,000 to a woman suspected to be her sister-in-law from Bayside, Queens. However, later that year, the property was sold to an unaffiliated group for $2.4 million. After this incident, Yang’s whereabouts were not known.