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Guo Wengui

Chinese conglomerate threatens to sue fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui

The HNA Group issues its first public statement on allegations of shady dealings made by Guo, rejecting them as completely unfounded and false

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 June, 2017, 2:34pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 June, 2017, 11:08pm

The Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has denied corruption allegations made by the fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui and says it may pursue legal action against him.

The comments were the company’s first public statements on the claims.

Guo is wanted on corruption charges in China and has made a series of graft allegations against the Chinese government and company officials on the mainland.

Guo’s claims against the HNA Group range from senior government officials held shareholdings in the firm and that were irregularities in its purchase of assets overseas, as well as improprieties over a VIP jet.

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A statement from HNA, whose interests spread from aviation to financial services, said the allegations made against the firm were completely unfounded and false.

“The HNA Group reserves the right to pursue all legal action in due course,” said the statement, which was released on the company’s website late on Saturday.

HNA has become one of most active Chinese firms in global markets outside the state sector, completing deals worth more than US$50 billion.

Guo has since April accused senior Communist Party leaders and others of corruption in a series of live-streamed interviews on social media or interviews with overseas media.

Within hours of HNA’s statement, Guo said in a live-streamed video that he welcomed its response and urged the company to make good on its threat to sue.

“If it’s just me speaking, that’s no good,” he said in the video. “Only their replies can prove the value and the truth of the matter. This is critical.”

Guo, a property developer with close ties to former deputy state security minister Ma Jian, is wanted by Beijing over allegations of corruption. He has been living in self-imposed exile in his New York penthouse for more than two years and has made regular video appearances on social media.

Guo has provided scant evidence to back up his accusations, but his standing as a former billionaire insider and his close ties with the disgraced former senior intelligence official Ma, have made him a centre of attention in Beijing political circles.

The Chinese government has launched a sustained effort through state media to discredit Guo, making a request to Interpol in April for the issue of a global “red notice” for his arrest.

Three senior employees of Guo told a court in Dalian in Liaoning province on Friday he had instructed them to fraudulently obtain loans running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

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The chairman of the property developer SOHO China, Pan Shiyi; and a prominent journalist, Hu Shuli, the founder of Caixin Media, have also filed defamation suits against Guo in New York.

Yuge Bromley, the wife of Australia-based artist David Bromley, said last week she was considering a lawsuit against Guo for falsely claiming she was an illegitimate daughter of the Communist Party’s top anti-graft official Wang Qishan.

Additional reporting by Reuters