World News

China asks Sweden to extradite man wanted on embezzlement charges

STOCKHOLM/BEIJING (Reuters) - China has asked Sweden to extradite a man wanted by Beijing on suspicion of having embezzled millions of dollars and who has been on the run since 2011, Swedish court documents show.

The documents seen by Reuters identify the man as Qiao Jianjun, who also goes under the name of Feng Li, stating he is suspected of breach of trust and fraud relating to the embezzlement of the equivalent of around 100 million Swedish crowns (£8.6 million).

Swedish Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander declined to name the man and could not confirm the details of China’s extradition request. However, she said police arrested him on June 25 and that he was being detained in the town of Huddinge, near Stockholm.

Qiao’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for a comment.

However, the court documents show the lawyer appealed the decision to hold him in detention. The appeal stated that Qiao had been politically active in opposing the Chinese government and that China is “well known for serious breaches of basic human rights and summary and flawed criminal procedures”.

The Supreme Court in Stockholm rejected the appeal on July 18.

Rosander said the Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit has opened an investigation to verify the accusations against the man and determine whether there are grounds for extradition. “It depends on what accusations are and the conditions in China and several other considerations,” she added.

Swedish law prevents the authorities from extraditing someone to a country where they would face the death penalty. Rosander said this, along with the fact that charges against the individual had not yet been verified, were part of the prosecutor’s deliberations.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was unaware of the case.

A Chinese government list of 100 “most wanted” suspects published about five years ago includes a man called Qiao Jianjun, also known as Feng Li, who is suspected of embezzling from a state grains company.

Some of the Swedish court documents are covered by secrecy rules and are not publicly available.

Reporting by Esha Vaish and Simon Johnson in Stockholm and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by David Stamp