'I want my money back!' Chen Guangbiao cries foul over fake UN philanthropy certificate

Chinese tycoon who took 250 homeless New Yorkers to lunch donated US$30,000 to foundation that claims connection to the United Nations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 April, 2016, 1:00pm

Controversial mainland philanthropist Chen Guangbiao claimed he was deceived by an organisation that issued him a fake United Nations certificate for the honorary title of the “world’s most prominent philanthropist”, a mainland news website reported.

The recycling mogul told Shanghai-based website on Sunday that the United Nations had named him the “world’s most prominent philanthropist” and the “global peace and goodwill ambassador” for his generosity to the homeless New Yorkers.

But the certificate, coming after Chen had made a US$30,000 donation, turned out to be a fraud.

In the latest step of his global charity campaign, Chen, who described himself as a “leading Chinese philanthropist” in his full-page advert in The New York Times, offered free lunches to 250 homeless residents in New York on June 25. Some of the diners left disappointed, saying Chen had promised them each US$300 in cash.

During the luncheon, a man who claimed to be Patrick Donohue awarded Chen a certificate on behalf of China Foundation for Global Partnership.

“In support of United Nation”, the foundation awarded Chen, “China’s moral role model and number one philanthropist”, with the honorary titles of “world’s most prominent philanthropist” and the “global peace and goodwill ambassador”, the certificate reads.

“Well, for your information, we are called the United Nations, not the United Nation,” the organisation jokingly said in denying the award on its official Sina Weibo account on Monday.

By noon yesterday, the denial had been reposted more than 3,000 times, with many microbloggers wondering if Chen was the sponsor of the foundation.

In response to the recent controversies, Chen told he might have been deceived.

“I do want an award or a certificate after helping others, but I would never fake one,” said the philanthropist, who has 11 honorary titles printed on his business card.

WATCH: Now a notch off the business card? Chen explains his titles

Chen claimed one of his volunteers from Columbia University introduced him to Donohue, the chairman of the foundation, on the day before the luncheon.

“The volunteer told me the foundation could award me the titles … She also asked me to donate US$50,000 to US$60,000 to the foundation after Donohue left,” Chen told the website.

“I’ve never bought honorary titles. But she kept asking for some donation, so in the end, I offered US$30,000.”

Chen said the volunteer could no longer be reached after his certificate was revealed to be fake. “I will go to the police if she does not return the $30,000 to me. It’s fraud!”