China Files Formal Charges Against Former Interpol Chief

May 10, 2019 Updated: May 10, 2019

BEIJING—Chinese prosecutors filed formal charges on May 10 against former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, accusing him of abuse of power and taking bribes, in the next legal step before he faces a court.

Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, last October said Meng had resigned as its president, days after his wife reported him missing after he traveled back to his home country of China.

In March, the ruling Communist Party said its own investigation into Meng found he spent “lavish” amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow party decisions.

His wife has dismissed the allegations and said his arrest was politically motivated.

In a short statement, prosecutors said they had filed charges against him with a court in the northern city of Tianjin, which is close to the capital Beijing.

The prosecutors said they charged Meng with abusing his power when he was previously a deputy minister of public security and head of China’s coast guard, and taking “an extremely large” amount of bribes.

It added that they had informed Meng of his rights and listened to the opinions of his lawyer.

It is not clear who his lawyer is.

The statement gave no other details.

Meng is certain to be found guilty when his case eventually comes to trial as the courts are controlled by the party and will not challenge its accusations.

Meng became president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016 as China widened its bid to secure leadership posts in international organizations.

His appointment prompted concern at the time from rights groups that Beijing might try to leverage his position against political opponents and to pursue dissidents abroad, pointing to the lack of transparency in China’s legal systems.

Meng is among a slew of high-ranking officials who have been ensnared by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s sweeping crackdown on graft and perceived disloyalty. Corruption charges usually result in convictions and lengthy sentences, including life in prison.

Meng’s political connections may be what cost him his post. He may have somehow been tainted by former security chief and ex-Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.

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 Xi’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.”

Xi has ousted many powerful officials—most of them part of an enemy faction loyal to former leader Jiang Zemin—since launching his anti-corruption campaign when he came to power in 2012.

By Ben Blanchard. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.