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Guo Wengui

Lawyer for fugitive Chinese tycoon accuses plaintiff firms of defamation in warning letter

Guo Wengui’s US attorney said mainland Chinese firms’ lawyer made politically motivated, ‘false and defamatory statements’ in press conference

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 6:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 6:59am

Lawyers representing fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui and mainland Chinese firms suing him in the New York court system attacked each other with allegations of defamation and “blissful ignorance”.

Guo’s US attorney, David Boies, who is known for successfully representing the US Justice Department in a high-profile case against Microsoft, warned in a letter dated June 14 that the plaintiffs’ attorney, Kevin K. Tung, made politically motivated, “false and defamatory statements” in a press conference held in New York a day earlier.

Speaking to reporters at that event, Tung accused Guo of transferring assets owed to the plaintiffs to the US “to enjoy a luxurious life at the expense of creditors”.

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A Beijing court issued judgments against companies controlled by Guo in China, Beijing Zenith Holdings Co Limited and Beijing Pangu Investment Co Limited, and more verdicts against the two companies are pending, Tung alleged in the press conference and in a statement given to reporters.

Tung also alleged that Guo’s efforts to transfer those assets to the US had made it impossible for the plaintiffs to satisfy the Beijing judgments. In a summons Tung filed with New York State’s Supreme Court, he seeks damages of US$50 million to enforce the rulings in Beijing.

In his June 14 letter, Boies suggested that the US complaint is part of a broader retaliation effort against Guo for accusations of corruption he made against high-ranking mainland Chinese officials in a recent interview with the New York Times.

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Boies also warned that he will hold Tung and his nine clients responsible for the claims Tung has publicised.

Tung responded with a letter, dated June 16 and sent to some media outlets, that Boies’ defamation charge “reveals either profound ignorance of basic litigation principles … or a clownish resort to dirty media tactics intended to injure my clients indirectly by attacking the professionalism of their legal representation.

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“Just because you are a renowned lawyer and head of a large law firm does not place you above the law.”

Guo also regularly makes accusations – against China’s top anti-corruption campaigner, Wang Qishan, and others – through regular posts on his social media feeds.

A property developer with close ties to former deputy state security minister Ma Jian, Guo is wanted by Beijing over allegations of corruption. He has been living in self-imposed exile in his New York penthouse on the edge of Central Park for more than two years.

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.