A Chinese billionaire who made allegations of high-level corruption against Communist Party officials in his homeland and is wanted by authorities in Beijing is facing a lawsuit in New York where he now lives, lawyers said Monday.
Guo Wengui, a real estate tycoon who lives in a luxury Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park, is being sued by nine creditors for US$50 million over outstanding debts, their attorney Kevin Tung told AFP.
They accuse Guo of using complex financial mechanisms to siphon capital from two investment funds, Zenith and Pangu — in which he held a majority stake — outside of China.
“Having tried unsuccessfully to seek redress in China, the plaintiffs have turned to New York, where Mr Guo is the owner, either directly or indirectly, of sizeable assets, in order to demand reparations for losses incurred in China,” said Tung.
Guo, who left China two years ago, is often presented as “China’s most-wanted man.”
His accusations have been a thorn in the side of the Communist Party as it prepares for its 19th Congress this coming fall, in which President Xi Jinping — who launched a much-publicized anti-graft campaign in 2012 — seeks re-election to another five-year term.
The fugitive billionaire has threatened to release incriminating information about top Chinese officials at a livestreamed press conference coinciding with the leadership gathering.
In particular, Guo said he has details of alleged “overseas transactions” by the family of Wang Qishan, Beijing’s all-powerful anti-corruption czar.
On Friday, three executives at the Beijing Pangu Investment fund, which is linked to Guo, confessed to fraud involving 3.2 billion yuan (US$470 million) in bank loans at a trial in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian.
Guo, who was the main shareholder in the fund, left China in 2015. According to Chinese media reports, he is also accused of paying 60 million yuan (US$8.8 million) to disgraced former state security vice-minister Ma Jian.
He is the target of an Interpol “red notice,” a non-binding arrest warrant issued by the international policing agency.
The billionaire once again rejected the charges against him on Friday in a message to AFP, in which he wrote, “Of course this isn’t true.”
“It’s very very complicated. It’s hard to explain in a few words.”