Judge Xi Xiaoming and his vanishing assets

Although Chinese judicial reforms include establishing a trial-centered judicial system that provides better protection for human rights (including property rights), under Party disciplinary regulations senior Party officials (such as former Supreme People’s Court Vice President Xi Xiaoming, subject of an earlier blogpost),  often have property confiscated or other property punishments imposed at the conclusion of Party disciplinary proceedings. This means that confiscation of assets occurs before an official’s case is transferred to the procuracy and heard by the courts.  According to the official statement on the disposition of Judge Xi’s case:

(He) was ordered to make restitution of certain amounts that were in violation of discipline;the issues related to his suspected crimes and related amounts are transferred to the judicial organs for handing.责令退赔违纪款;将其涉嫌犯罪问题及涉款物移送司法机关依法处理.

The wording  is similar to official statements issued in relation to other senior officials investigated by the CCDI and the same language is to be found in reports on the dispositions of local Communist Party disciplinary investigations.

Han Jinping, director-general of the CCDI’s case coordination department and a former judge in the #2 criminal division of the Supreme People’s Court, provided more details on the CCDI’s authority to impose property punishments in a July, 2015 interview she gave to Chinese Central Television.

(A 2014 profile of Ms. Han reveals that she was involved in guiding some of the lower courts in recent high profile corruption cases and has been involved in some of the thinking behind China’s initiatives to pursue corrupt officials abroad).

She mentioned that more than half of the assets recovered since the beginning of the anti-corruption campaign have been confiscated by the CCDI itself (RMB 20.1 billion) and handed over to the national treasury, while 18.6 billion has been recovered through the formal legal system.  Ms. Han explained that according to applicable rules (set out below), CCDI is authorized to:

  • confiscate assets (没收);
  • recover assets(追缴);
  • order restitution (责令退赔)

relating to violations of Party and government rules and orders.

She noted the following rules guide their authority:

Related to the rules she cited are additional regulations issued by the General Offices of the Central Committee and the State Council on the handling of money and property management in criminal cases earlier this year, focused on coordination between departments (and less explicitly with CCDI).

Assets of officials determined by CCDI to have violated Party rules are confiscated in closed proceedings (subject to Party Committee approval at the relevant level), but the handling of the property must be in accordance with the above procedures. The official under investigation does not have access to counsel, and there does not seem to be a procedure by which a third party can oppose the property punishments imposed by CCDI. ( 2014 regulations of the Supreme People’s Court, by contrast, give third parties that right when property punishments are imposed in criminal proceedings.) For the family members, friends, and associates of an official subject to CCDI proceedings, it appears that any recourse they have is very limited.  A good proportion of the assets recovered in the current anti-corruption campaign have been recovered by skirting the procedural protections of the persons involved under the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law.  It appears to be a modern day version of the traditional legal system’s punishment of officials.

(Please use the comment function if there are errors in the above analysis.)





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