China accuses ex-Interpol chief of bribery, other crimes




BEIJING: China is investigating the former president of Interpol for bribery and other crimes, Beijing said Monday in a notice that indicated the Chinese official may also be in trouble for political transgressions.

Meng Hongwei, China’s vice minister for public security, was being investigated as a result of his “willfulness” and has only himself to blame, according to a statement posted on a government website.

The scant details provided on Monday raised further questions about the scope of the allegations made against Meng and whether they pertain in any way to his work at the international police agency. They also shone an unflattering light on secretive, extralegal detentions in China that have ensnared dissidents and allegedly corrupt or disloyal officials alike at increasing rates under the authoritarian rule of President Xi Jinping.

Monday’s notice of a high-level meeting of public security officials elaborated on a terse announcement late Sunday by an anti-graft agency of the ruling Communist Party that said Meng was suspected of unspecified crimes. The Sunday announcement was issued barely an hour after Meng’s wife made a bold appeal to the world for help from Lyon, France, where she is based.

Meng is the latest high-ranking official, and one with an unusually prominent international standing, to fall victim to a sweeping crackdown by the ruling Communist Party on graft and perceived disloyalty. Shortly after China’s announcement about the investigation on Sunday, Interpol said Meng had resigned as the international police agency’s president.

Chinese officials appeared to be scrambling to respond to an unfolding scandal. In the early hours of Monday, Zhao Lezhi, the minister for public security, chaired a meeting attended by senior officials of the ministry’s party committee to discuss Meng’s case, the statement said.

“We should deeply recognize the serious damage that Meng Hongwei’s bribe-taking and suspected violations of the law have caused the party and the cause of public security and deeply learn from this lesson,” Monday’s announcement said.

The 64-year-old Meng’s unexplained disappearance while on a trip home to China late last month prompted the French government and Interpol to make their concerns known publicly in recent days.