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Businessman arrested for smuggling millions into US

25 September 2015, 18:54

Washington - A Chinese businessman from Macau has been arrested in New York for smuggling more than $4.5 million into the United States in cash over a two-year period, according to US authorities.

Ng Lap Seng, who made his fortune in real estate, has been charged with fraud and imprisoned without the possibility of release on bail along with his main collaborator Jeff Yin.

The arrest, announced this week, comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the United States. Beijing has prioritized bringing to justice those accused of economic crimes who have fled abroad.

According to an FBI investigation report seen by AFP, Ng and Yin made eleven trips to the United States between July 2013 to September 2015, each time bringing with them between $200,000 and $900,000 dollars.

In June 2014, for example, Ng landed in New York with a suitcase containing $400,000 in cash, telling customs officials he intended to use the money to purchase paintings and go gambling in Las Vegas.

FBI investigators are convinced that was a lie.

Ng's lawyers did not immediately return a request for comment.

Ng was previously linked to a Clinton-era Democratic party campaign finance controversy. He was never charged.

Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Chinese communist party's political and legal affairs commission, recently stressed the importance of clamping down on economic crime and corruption at a preparatory meeting ahead of the US visit.

And earlier this month, Yang Jinjun, a former municipal official accused of corruption who had resided in the US for 14 years was repatriated to China.

The repatriation was facilitated by an agreement negotiated in April between Washington and Beijing, though the two countries lack a formal extradition treaty.

On Thursday, Kuang Wanfang, a Chinese woman convicted and imprisoned in the US for her part in a scheme to steal nearly $500 million from a state-run Chinese bank, was also sent back to China.

They were the first two suspects in the US to be repatriated in China's anti-corruption push.

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