Beijing: China’s Public Security Ministry says the ex-head of the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, has been placed under investigation on suspicion of bribery.
The ministry said in a statement following an internal meeting on Monday that Meng Hongwei had “accepted bribes and is suspected of violating the law,” describing the investigation as “very timely, absolutely correct and rather wise.”
In an earlier statement, China’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Supervisory Commission, had also said Meng — who is also China’s vice minister for public security — in under probe on suspicion of “violating the law.”
After learning about the announcement, his wife described the situation as “political ruin.”
Meng left Lyon, France, where Interpol is headquartered, on September 25, prompting a media fanfare suggesting his suspected disappearance. The reports also alleged that his wife had received a text message from his mobile displaying a “knife” emoji.
Soon after the watchdog’s announcement, Interpol said it had received Meng’s resignation “with immediate effect,” and that the body would elect a new president at its general assembly next month.
The 64-year-old has lived with his wife and two children in France since being elected Interpol president in 2016.
His appointment to the head of the world police was hailed at the time as a vehicle for Beijing to boost its domestic anti-graft fight, a centerpiece of President Xi Jinping’s widespread crackdown on corruption, including among fugitive officials.
Critics of Meng’s 2016 election to Interpol’s presidency had said that he would use his position to favor China. Interpol had downplayed the concerns, saying the president had little influence over the organization’s day-to-day operations, which are handled by Secretary-General Juergen Stock, a German.
Interpol acts as a network linking the law enforcement agencies of its members, but it does not possess agents of its own with powers of arrest.