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Head of Interpol Meng Hongwei accused of corruption, Chinese government

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Meng Hongwei, the Chinese of Interpol, who vanished mysteriously late last month, is being investigated for alleged corruption, announced Monday, the latest high-profile target to be ensnared in a sweeping anti-graft campaign led by

Meng, who was also a in China, was first reported missing in late September after travelling from in to

is the global policing agency that coordinates between police forces around the world, including searches for missing and wanted persons.

Concerns over Meng's whereabouts were first raised by wife, Grace, who reported him missing to French authorities in the city of Lyon, where the couple live, last Thursday.

Grace has revealed that Meng, the first Chinese of Interpol, sent her a text message with a knife emoji on the day he went missing, indicating that he was in trouble.

Meng, 64, has been accused by the of accepting bribes and committing unspecified other crimes.

"(Meng) insisted on taking the wrong path and had only himself to blame (for his downfall)," the country's top official, Zhao Kezhi, was quoted as saying in a statement Monday.

Chinese authorities had previously remained tight-lipped about the whereabouts of Meng, following his sudden disappearance last month after he flew from to

In a separate development, said it had received Meng's resignation from the agency with "immediate effect" according to statement posted Sunday.

It made no mention of the former president's whereabouts or the Chinese investigation.

Monday's statement on the ministry of public security's website provided no details about the bribes Meng allegedly took or the other crimes he has been accused of, but indicated that he was also being investigated for political lapses.

The Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper known for its connections within the Chinese government, said Meng was "taken away" for questioning upon landing in China last week.

Meng is the latest high-profile target to be ensnared in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by Xi, who assumed power in 2012.

The Chinese promised it would catch both "tigers and flies" -- the powerful as well as ordinary citizens -- and has brought down top officials like ex-Politburo Standing Committee member and former security tzar Yongkang.

In the statement on Monday, Chinese authorities alluded to ties between and Meng, who rose through the government's security apparatus under

The statement said Meng's fall highlighted Xi's resolve in cleaning up the ruling and stressed the importance of political loyalty to the Party's leadership under Xi.

The widely-publicised arrest of Meng came after another prominent Chinese figure on the world stage appeared to vanish after falling foul of

One of China's best-known actresses, Fan Bingbing, reappeared following a lengthy disappearance in the past week, admitting to tax evasion and promising to pay a large fine.

Meng has lived in Lyon, where Interpol is headquartered, since assuming the role of president in 2016.

In an emotional press conference on Sunday, Grace told reporters that concern for her husband is a matter that "belongs to the international community."

"Although I can't see my husband, we are always connected by heart," she was quoted as saying by

In a statement Friday, the confirmed that it was looking into the situation and that a "suitable police mechanism" had been put in place to guarantee Grace Meng's safety.

Following Meng's resignation, Interpol announced South Korea's would serve as until the organisation's general assembly picks a next month in

When Meng was chosen as the next President of Interpol in 2016 it was warmly welcomed by Beijing, who said China was ready to "take on bigger responsibility and make greater contribution to push for global "

Meng oversaw the agency's committee, which sets overall strategy.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, October 08 2018. 15:05 IST