Jailed Chinese Leader Bo Xilai's French Villa Up for Sale

K J M Verma/Beijing
Jailed Chinese Leader Bo Xilai's French Villa Up for Sale

A sprawling villa owned by jailed Chinese politician Bo Xilai has been put up for sale for USD 8.5 million in southeastern France, in a bid by China to recover corrupt officials' illegally acquired assets overseas.

The five-bedroom building property, spread over 400 square metres and with a 4,000 square metre garden, in the French Riviera city of Cannes was listed for sale and an agency there is reportedly handling the sale, official media here reported.

Bo, a former party chief in south-western metropolis of Chongqing, was sentenced to life in prison last year for accepting bribes and abuse of power in one of China's most serious political scandals.

The court, which ordered to confiscated the property, said the villa formed one of the bribes offered to Bo and his wife Gu Kailai and was worth more than 2.3 million euros (USD 2.8 million) when it was bought for them in 2001.

Gu is serving a suspended death sentence for murdering a British businessman Neil Heywood.

According to documents from a Cannes commercial court, the property is managed by a company registered in France the legal representative of which is Jiang Feng Dolby, a former host on Central China Television and said to be close to Bo, a Global Times report said.

Heywood, managed the firm beginning in 2007 and passed the position to Jiang in 2011, read the documents.

The villa sale brings into focus the challenges involved as China attempts to set up an international cooperation system to hunt for suspected fugitives of economic crimes and corruption, China Daily said in its report.

A senior official at the Ministry of Justice said China and France will strengthen judicial cooperation to confiscate illegally acquired assets transferred to France by corrupt Chinese officials.

"We will work closely with our French counterparts on financial intelligence sharing and enhance cooperation to locate and seize illegal assets corrupt Chinese officials send to France," the unidentified official told the daily.

Huang Feng, a law professor at Beijing Normal University who specialises in the repatriation of criminal suspects, said in many cases the Chinese legal system cannot make detailed judgments on illegally acquired assets and provide legal documents that are accepted internationally.

Huang said this has become one of the biggest obstacles to repatriating suspects.

A French lawyer told the Global Times that Chinese authorities need to provide French authorities with sufficient evidence to clear the ownership of the property and prove that the mansion belongs to Bo before it can be confiscated.

Olivier Pedro-Jose, deputy spokesperson for the French Justice Ministry, said that France has agreed to assist China in chasing a dozen suspects, but did not comment on Bo's mansion, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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