From Kaifeng to New York, fugitive Chinese tycoon has long list of legal woes

Billionaire Guo Wengui faces a raft of lawsuits in his US hideaway and criminal charges back in China

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:36pm

Hours after a court in northeastern China handed down prison sentences on three employees of fugitive businessman Guo Wengui for fraud on Friday, state media revealed three more cases against the property tycoon’s other companies and employees.

The billionaire Guo, who now lives in New York, is wanted on corruption charges in China. He, in turn, has unleashed a whirlwind of graft allegations against senior party leaders in recent months.

Staff of fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui jailed, punished for fraud

But Beijing and some parties targeted by his accusations are fighting back. Chinese prosecutors are pressing criminal charges against his companies and employees, and Guo and his associates are mired in a tangle of lawsuits in the United States.

Here is a breakdown of the cases against Guo.

In China

In Dalian, Liaoning province

Prosecutors filed charges on Friday against former executives at Beijing Pangu Investment for misappropriation of funds and embezzlement. Guo is accused of misappropriating 400 million yuan, and the ex-managers at Pangu are alleged to have assisted him by forging documents, according to Xinhua.

In a separate case, Dalian prosecutors are pressing charges against three Pangu employees for intentional destruction of accounting documents. Guo was accused of instructing the staff members to destroy all account books from one of his companies for the period from its founding in 2008 to 2013, in order to cover up bribes he had paid, Xinhua reported.

In Kaifeng, Henan province

Prosecutors in Kaifeng, an ancient city in Guo’s home province of Henan, filed charges against former managers at Guo’s Henan Yuda Real Estate company on Friday. Prosecutors said the former executives had fraudulently obtained a total of 1.5 billion yuan from seven banks by setting up shell companies and fabricating contracts and projects, according to Xinhua.

In the United States:

HNA Group

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, the owner of Hainan Airlines, is suing Guo in the US for defamatory and libelous statements, including that Communist Party officials are undisclosed shareholders in the company.

Trial reveals fugitive Chinese tycoon’s financial operation

Guo had also claimed that senior government officials who held shares in the firm had used company aircraft for “purely personal reasons, including to engage in illicit sexual activity”, according to a legal notice from the New York state Supreme Court.

Nine construction companies

A group of nine companies launched a US$50 million lawsuit in New York against Guo on Tuesday in a bid to obtain compensation for assets they weren’t able to recover following legal victories in Beijing.

The plaintiffs – who previously sued two of the defendants, Beijing Zenith Holdings and Beijing Pangu Investment, in Chinese courts – are seeking more than US$40 million in direct damages and US$10 million in punitive damages.

SOHO China chief

Pan Shiyi, chairman of Hong Kong-listed property developer SOHO China, is suing Guo in New York for defamation.

Guo, they claim, falsely accused Soho and Pan of illegally colluding with government officials, manipulating information about company ownership and improperly procuring favourable zoning changes.

Exiled tycoon Guo Wengui ordered staff to commit fraud to get big loans, court told

Pan has denied the allegations on social media.

“Guo Wengui spread rumours that we are holding 50 per cent of SOHO’s shares for others and I am a white glove for [corrupt] officials. It’s nonsense. SOHO China is a Hong Kong-listed company with a clear ownership structure. Everybody can check it out,” Pan said in a statement.

Journalist Hu Shuli

Hu Shuli and Caixin Media, which Hu founded and is editor-in-chief at, filed a lawsuit in April against Guo for libel.

Hu claimed Guo launched a barrage of defamatory claims after she published a report examining his business dealings and claiming he conspired to oust Beijing’s deputy mayor. Guo responded with a campaign of public lies, according to the complaint by Caixin and Hu.

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Guo falsely claimed Hu had an extramarital affair, bore an illegitimate child, participated in sex games, abused drugs, extorted opponents, published false stories and defrauded companies, according to the filing. Caixin and Hu are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Guo has asked for the suit to be dismissed, saying in court that his statements weren’t defamatory and that translations of the comments into English may be incorrect.

Additional reporting by Reuters, Bloomberg