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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 14:09 GMT
China's 'most wanted' arrested
Prime Minister Zhu Rongji
Prime Minister Zhu Rongji has promised to end corruption
Canadian police have arrested the man who allegedly masterminded China's largest-ever corruption case.

Lai Chang Xing, described as China's most wanted man, was detained in Vancouver for breach of immigration regulations after a year on the run.

Mr Lai is accused of smuggling billions of dollars worth of contraband goods into south-east Fujian province.

The case has stunned all China in its scale and in the apparent ease with which Mr Lai bought off the Xiamen city government.

Death sentence

More than 80 people have already been sentenced for their roles in the scandal known as the Yuanhua case. Of these 14 have been sentenced to death.

The cities where the trials are taking place
The Yuanhua trials are being held in five cities
Yuanhua was the name of Mr Lai's company. Official reports say that from 1996 on he cheated the state out of about $4bn worth of taxes.

He allegedly imported vast quantities of crude oil, cars and consumer goods without declaring them to customs and bribed scores of government officials.

China has issued an international warrant for his arrest through Interpol.

But correspondents say that if Mr Lai returns to China, he is all but certain to face the death penalty, which may make Canadian extradition hesitant to hand him over.

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
China sentences 14 officials to death
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Corruption: End of China's Party?
09 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese corruption partner gets life
21 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Three Gorges corruption scandal
08 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Top Chinese official executed
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