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June 24, 2014

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Fugitive to stand trial after 3 years on run

A man who fled overseas three years ago after cheating members of the public out of 11 million yuan (US$1.8 million) is back in the country and awaiting trial, local police said yesterday.

Shi Ping, a 50-year-old Beijing native, registered an investment company in Shanghai in April 2010. Over the following six months he convinced more than 100 people to invest in a real estate scheme that offered monthly interest rates of up to 15 percent, Huangpu District police said.

But when the interest payments failed to materialize, several investors contacted the police. Once Shi discovered he was under investigation he fled the country.

He first traveled to Singapore in May 2011, before moving on to Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, where he spent various amounts of time over the following three years.

Despite being in hiding, Shanghai police were able to contact Shi via his 80-year-old mother and younger brother who live in Beijing.

Wang Hua, an officer with the economic crime division of Huangpu police who led the investigation, told Shanghai Daily he had been sending text messages to all three family members since 2011.

After three years of negotiations, the fugitive last month turned himself in.

Shi said that despite the large sums involved in the deception, most of the money went to the owner of a property company in Tianjin who recruited him to handle fundraising. He claimed he pocketed just 200,000 yuan.

“I had part-time jobs and set up some small businesses while I was away, but overall I was in a bad financial state,” he told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

“I struggled with the climate and language too,” he said, adding that he also worried about his aging mother.

Wang said the owner of the property firm has since been arrested and that Shi’s evidence will help to secure a prosecution. Shi is on bail pending trial.

Since the start of the year, 14 fugitives have returned to Shanghai to face criminal charges.

Under a central government ruling made in 2011, all those who surrender themselves to police and confess to their crimes are guaranteed leniency.

Despite the offer, 145 locals remain on the run overseas, police said.


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