Hainan Airlines owner sues fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui for defamation
Legal action is escalating against Guo, who is wanted on corruption charges in China and has accused the Chinese government and mainland company officials of graft
The owner of Hainan Airlines, Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, said it filed a defamation lawsuit against fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui, calling his recent allegations tying the company to corruption involving Chinese leaders “baseless” and “meritless”.
Guo’s claims “have harmed HNA Group’s reputation”, said the statement, issued late on Thursday night. The statement said HNA would “vigorously pursue its claims” against Guo.
Guo had claimed that senior government officials who held shares in the firm had perpetrated irregularities in the purchase of assets overseas, as well as improprieties over a VIP jet. HNA had denied corruption allegations in a statement last Saturday.
Several Chinese companies are now suing the Chinese billionaire who is living in New York. A group of nine companies launched a US$50 million lawsuit on Tuesday in New York against Guo in a bid to obtain compensation for assets they weren’t able to recover following legal victories in Beijing.
In April, HNA’s Hong Kong-listed shares recorded their biggest single day plunge in more than a year, falling as much as 16.7 per cent to HK$0.225, after Guo made allegations tying the company’s acquisitions to corruption involving Chinese leaders and their families.
The stock price has since recovered to trade above HK$0.30, but is still down from this year’s closing high of HK$0.46.
Guo regularly takes to social media to level allegations of bribery and conspiracy against high-profile individuals in China, including President Xi Jinping’s top anti-corruption official Wang Qishan, usually through self-made videos.