The ongoing probe into the international financial affairs of former Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai is faced with a complicated legal process involving the judicial systems of several different countries, as investigators try to track down his assets, a lawyer familiar with the Bo family said.
Cambodia announced this week that a top Chinese judge could travel to Cambodia to help authorities there question Patrick Devillers, a detained French architect linked to Bo.
Beijing-based lawyer Li Zhuang said the case requires the careful use of complicated bilateral agreements.
"This isn't just a matter for one country; it involves three: China, France, and Cambodia," Li said.
"Bilateral agreements between all three countries would have to be scrutinized very carefully; you can't just look at it as an issue between two countries," said Li, who worked in Chongqing for a year during Bo's anti-mafia campaigns.
Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told reporters on Wednesday that Patrick Henri Devillers had been detained because of suspected financial links to Gu Kailai, wife of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai.
He said China would need to manage its investigation via Interpol, because China, France, Cambodia and the UK are all involved in the investigation.
Gu Kailai has been named by China as a suspect in the murder last November of British businessman Neil Heywood. Both Heywood and Devillers were known to be close to her.
Devillers, 52, who has lived in Cambodia for at least five years, is unlikely to be extradited for the time being, as China has not provided any evidence to Cambodia of his alleged criminal activity.
But Beijing might send an investigating judge to interrogate him, Khieu Kanharith said.
Chinese officials have yet to comment publicly on Devillers' detention.
However, London's Financial Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that Bo and Gu had bought expensive London apartments via a front company called Golden Map, and that Devillers had occupied one of them from time to time.
It said that Devillers appears to have first entered into a formal business partnership with the Bo family in December 2000, citing UK company records.
Devillers and Gu gave the same Bournemouth address when they incorporated a company called Adad Ltd, although the company was later dissolved with no accounts filed in September 2003.
By then, Devillers was involved in the purchase of an apartment in Coleherne Court, South Kensington, in a block previously inhabited by Lady Diana Spencer before her marriage to the Prince of Wales, the paper said.
Profit handled 'together'
Jiang Weiping, a former journalist with the Chinese Communist Party-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper in Hong Kong who was jailed in the northeastern province of Liaoning after reporting on alleged corruption during Bo's tenure as provincial governor, said Devillers and Gu managed the family's financial affairs together.
"Back then, Bo Xilai had only two concerns: one was his political reputation, and the other was his personal profit," Jiang said.
"The profit side of things was handled by his wife and Devillers, working together."
He said the pair had rolled out a number of civic pride and infrastructure projects which aimed to make Dalian into the "Hong Kong of the north."
"They implemented some town planning and urban construction in Dalian, including parks, squares, sculptures, and street signs," he said. "[Devillers] got a lot of business."
No details have been made public by China about the ongoing investigation into "serious violations" of Party discipline alleged against Bo and his former police chief Wang Lijun, nor about the police investigation into Heywood's death, in which Gu is a suspect.
Unconfirmed media reports have said that Gu, 53, who is being held in a government-affiliated facility in northern China, has "confessed" to killing Heywood to stop him revealing illegal remittances of billions of dollars abroad that he allegedly helped to organize for her.
Heywood, 41, was discovered dead in a Chongqing hotel in November, and was quickly cremated after his death was blamed on a drinking binge.
Reported by Tang Qiwei for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.