China accuses former Interpol chief of bribery
Meng Hongwei’s disappearance sparked concerns late last month.
Chinese authorities are investigating the former president of Interpol for bribery and other crimes – and indicate that political transgressions may also have landed him in trouble.
Meng Hongwei, China’s vice minister for public security, is being investigated due to his own “wilfulness and for bringing trouble upon himself”, Beijing said.
Interpol announced that Meng had resigned as president of the international police agency, effective immediately, shortly after China made a brief announcement that he was under investigation.
Meng’s unexplained disappearance in China late last month, which had prompted the French government and Interpol to make their concerns known publicly, threatened to further tarnish Beijing’s image.
The announcement by Beijing elaborated on a terse announcement by an agency of the ruling Communist Party that investigates corruption and political disloyalty that said Meng was suspected of unspecified legal violations.
Meng is now the latest high-ranking official, and one with an unusually prominent international standing, to fall victim to a sweeping crackdown by the ruling party.
In a sign of how seriously the authorities regard the case, Zhao Lezhi, the minister for public security, chaired a meeting in the early hours of Monday morning with senior officials of the ministry’s party committee to discuss it.
French judicial officials had said on Friday that the 64-year-old Meng was missing.
His unexplained disappearance while on a trip home to China late last month had prompted the French government and Interpol to make their concerns known publicly.
Interpol announced that Meng had resigned as president of the international police agency, effective immediately, shortly after China announced that he was under investigation.
The revelation that China’s system of shady and often-arbitrary detentions could ensnare even a senior public security official with international stature has cast a shadow over the image Beijing has sought to cultivate in recent years as a modern country with the rule of law.
A statement on the ministry of public security’s website provided no details about the bribes Meng allegedly took or the other crimes he is accused of, but it suggested that he is also being investigated for political lapses.
It indicated that Meng, a member of the Communist Party, may have somehow been tainted by the former security chief and ex-Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.
Statement by the INTERPOL General Secretariat on the resignation of— INTERPOL (@INTERPOL_HQ) October 7, 2018
Meng Hongwei. pic.twitter.com/c2daKd9N39
“We should resolutely oppose corruption and resolutely eliminate the pernicious influence of Zhou Yongkang,” it said.
Meng’s various jobs likely put him in close contact with Zhou and other Chinese leaders in the security establishment, a sector long synonymous with corruption, opacity and human rights abuses.
Zhou and other senior figures prosecuted in Chinese president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown were mostly convicted of corruption but officials have since also said they were accused of “conspiring openly to usurp party leadership”.
At Monday’s meeting, officials were told that they “must always maintain the political quality of being absolutely loyal to the party”, the statement said.