A mainland businessman planning to buy a major stake in ATV is embroiled in a US legal battle with an entertainment mogul. Bruno Wu Ching and his television celebrity wife, Yang Lan - dubbed 'the Oprah Winfrey of China' - have been involved in an 18-month court fight in New York. The row, involving allegations of fraud and breach of contract, follows the collapse of a deal with the former head of Warner Music. Mr Wu filed a US$30 million (HK$232.2 million) lawsuit against Robert Morgado and his Maroley Communications company in November 1996. He claimed the multi-millionaire reneged on an agreement to finance a partnership to produce records and television shows in China, some starring Ms Yang. Revelations of the battle come as the Government considers an application from Mr Wu's consortium to buy a 34.5 per cent stake in ATV. Amid concerns about the consortium's mainland connections, the only members who have identified themselves publicly are Mr Wu, who would become a director, National People's Congress deputy Wong Po-yan and Michael Spiessbach, of Los Angeles-based King World Productions. A mainland businessman with links to the PLA, Liu Changle, is believed to have a stake. Mr Wu claims he was left broke after Mr Morgado lied about his plans for the deal and secretly set up a rival company. However, Mr Morgado has filed counter-claims with the New York Supreme Court, alleging that Mr Wu siphoned off US$300,000 of Maroley's investment for personal use. Mr Morgado, one of the most powerful men in the United States entertainment business, also claims Mr Wu misled him about his experience in the mainland's music business and exaggerated the potential profits. One of his lawyers also claimed, in a letter to Mr Wu's legal representative, that Mr Wu had attempted to intimidate a potential witness, Mr Morgado's new partner, Zhang Hong. 'According to Ms Zhang, Mr Wu threatened to kill Ms Zhang and destroy her business unless she withdrew from any involvement in this lawsuit and stopped working with Maroley,' said lawyer Matthew Brinkerhoff for Mr Wu. In a bizarre twist to the saga, Mr Wu also accused his rival of stealing a priceless Ming dynasty artwork - a piece Mr Morgado's company returned two weeks after Mr Wu filed his suit. Mr Wu denied the allegations of misappropriated money and threats. 'It's totally groundless and baseless,' he told the South China Morning Post. Independent audits showed 'not one dime' was missing and he had ploughed more than US$140,000 into the joint venture, he said. On the allegations about Ms Zhang, Mr Wu said: 'Some of these lawsuits go crazy, things get spoken about.' One of Mr Wu's lawyers, Steven Kramer, said all the allegations against Mr Wu were 'bogus claims designed to intimidate Mr Wu into dropping his lawsuit'. The two sides are understood to be close to settling the bitter legal fight, leading to an end to their business ties and joint venture, Chinese Television Enterprises (CTE). Judge Beatrice Shainswit in July dismissed Mr Wu's claims for breach of contract, slander and theft against Mr Morgado. However, she allowed Mr Wu to pursue a breach of trust claim against Maroley. Mr Wu and Ms Yang claim Mr Morgado broke the terms of the contract by covertly establishing another competing company after he left Warner in competition with CTE, breaking the terms of their contract.