Interpol chief investigated for bribery, says Chinese ministry

Meng Hongwei resigns from agency as ministry says task force will investigate claims

Meng Hongwei: disappeared last month after a visit to China. Interpol said on Sunday its general secretariat had received his resignation as president. Photograph: Du Yu/Xinhua via AP

Meng Hongwei: disappeared last month after a visit to China. Interpol said on Sunday its general secretariat had received his resignation as president. Photograph: Du Yu/Xinhua via AP

 

The Chinese former head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, who disappeared last month after a visit to China, is under investigation for accepting bribes, a senior Chinese minister said on Monday.

Zhao Kezhi, head of the ministry of public security, issued a statement saying senior officials from the ministry, which is in charge of the police, held a meeting and unanimously agreed to investigate Mr Meng (64).

The investigation was “completely the result of [Mr Meng’s] own wilful act” as he had “brought trouble upon himself”, the statement said. The ministry would set up a working group to investigate Mr Meng’s activities and those of other personnel.

Mr Meng’s wife, Grace Meng, who lives in Lyon where Interpol has its headquarters, reported him missing after she had had no contact with him since September 25th following his departure for China. Her last communication with him was a text message saying “wait for my call” and a knife emoji.

Until recent days Mr Meng was president of Interpol, the global law enforcement agency. Interpol said on Sunday its general secretariat had received his resignation.

The first official comment on the situation came from China’s national supervisory commission, which said in a brief statement late on Sunday that Mr Meng, a deputy minister of public security in China, was under investigation for a “breach of the law”.

The move to detain a high-profile head of an international organisation could prove a setback to Beijing’s efforts to boost its diplomatic standing, suggesting that the charges could be serious.

Party discipline

However, the language of the statement from the ministry emphasises Communist Party discipline, which almost certainly indicates that this is being seen as an internal matter. While China’s international reputation is considered important, domestic party issues will always take precedence when it comes to making a decision on who to investigate.

“The investigation of Meng is correct and wise. Party members and leading cadres should be honest and show self-discipline and abide by the law. We must strictly abide by the party’s political discipline and political rules,” the statement said, adding that the decision to investigate displayed commitment to the central committee of the Communist Party “with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core” to carry out the wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign that has been one of the hallmarks of the Xi era.

He is said to have been close to the disgraced former security chief Zhou Yongkang, a rival of Mr Xi who is now in jail for corruption. This could be a sign that he has fallen foul of faction fighting in the upper echelons of the Communist Party

Mr Meng was named president of Interpol in 2016 for a four-year term. Interpol named Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as its acting president.