Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei has been detained in China on bribery and corruption charges, the country’s public security ministry said 13 days after he went missing.
Meng’s disappearance was made public on Friday, when French authorities said they were opening an investigation to find out what happened to Meng, a Chinese national who served a lengthy term as the vice minister for public security.
On Monday, Chinese authorities said they were investigating Meng for bribery, adding that political transgressions may have also landed him in trouble.
The Ministry of Public Security said that Meng’s suspected corruption and violation of laws “gravely jeopardised” the ruling party and the police, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
Authorities also said Meng was in this situation due to his own “willfulness and for bringing trouble upon himself”.
Earlier, France received Meng’s resignation as president of Interpol with immediate effect, according to the international police agency.
On Sunday, Meng’s wife, Grace, said her husband sent her an image of a knife before he disappeared during a trip to their native China.
|Grace Meng told journalists that she thought the knife emoji meant her husband was in danger [Jeff Pachoud/AFP]|
Making her first public comments on the issue, Grace Meng told reporters in Lyon, France, that she thought the knife was her husband’s way of trying to tell her he was in danger.
She said she has had no further contact with him since the message that was sent on September 25. Grace also said four minutes before Meng shared the image, he had sent a message saying: “Wait for my call.”
She read a statement during her press conference in Lyon, but would not allow reporters to show her face, saying she feared for her own safety and the safety of her two children.
Meng is a senior Chinese security official as well as president of the International Criminal Police Organisation.
|Grace would not allow her face to be shown over fears for her safety [Jeff Pachoud/AFP]|
|Meng served a lengthy term as China’s vice minister for public security [File: Xinhua via AP]|
According to Interpol’s website, Meng has nearly 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing, and has overseen matters related to legal institutions, narcotics control and counterterrorism.
Following the appointment, critics suggested that Meng’s appointment gave Beijing a chance to enlist more international help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.
But Interpol has, in the past, denied this, saying its head does not intervene in day-to-day operations, which are handled by Secretary-General Juergen Stock who is German.