Fugitive Chinese tycoon ‘snoops on Middle Eastern royal families’ in leaked phone messages
The recordings come after a series of reports on state media aimed at discrediting Guo Wengui, who is wanted on graft charges and accuses Chinese leaders of corruption
Recordings of what appear to be phone voice messages left by fugitive Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui requesting information about powerful royal family members in the Middle East and other international public figures have emerged online.
The publication of the recordings on YouTube follows a slew of state media reports aimed at discrediting the Chinese businessman this week.
The three crudely edited videos containing the audio, with subtitles in Chinese and in poorly translated English of Guo speaking, were uploaded onto the video sharing website at about midnight on Wednesday.
The content of the videos appears to back up state media reports in China run by the state-run news agency Xinhua and state broadcaster CCTV on Monday, which said Guo had asked the former civil aviation official Song Jun to obtain information about Hainan Airlines’ passengers and political heavyweights in the Middle East and the West.
One message from the YouTube videos was also used in a CCTV report on Monday.
It was not clear who was the source of the original audio or how it was obtained, but it appears to be the latest move in Beijing’s unprecedented publicity campaign through conventional media and in cyberspace to discredit Guo, who has been hurling unverified insider tales of alleged corruption and power plays among the top ranks of China’s Communist Party from his lavish flat in New York.
Guo’s graft allegations against senior party leaders, although mostly unsubstantiated, come as the party is trying to ensure political stability ahead of a key five-yearly leadership reshuffle later this year.
The government has subjected him to a Interpol global “red notice” for his arrest on corruption charges and prosecutors are also pressing fraud charges against his employees back in China.
One of the videos on YouTube features audio of Guo inquiring about the flight information of foreign political heavyweights.
His targets include a “deputy prime minister” of the United Arab Emirates in charge of presidential affairs, who he said was a member of the royal family and the “chairman” of its sovereign wealth fund, according to video.
Guo has not been shy to show off his ties to the emirate. On Twitter, he has called Abu Dhabi his “dear country”. “It has given me everything, safety, trust, honour and money,” he wrote in a post in April.
The Chinese media organisation Caixin reported in May that Guo was introduced to Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan by former British prime minister Tony Blair.
The report alleged Guo later used money from Abu Dhabi to help finance a failed takeover of the Chinese brokerage Haitong Securities.
Guo has dismissed the Caixin report as “lies” and Blair’s office has responded by saying that he had never had a commercial contract with Guo and only knew him as a friend.
In the video, Guo also inquired about Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, asking about the plane he used and his entourage during his visit to Beijing last August.
Guo also boasted in one recording released on YouTube about his ties to US political heavyweights.
“US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Paris shortly and he wanted to meet me tonight,” he said in one video. The subtitles spelled Kerry’s name as “John Carry”.
“The Clinton couple has invited me to their hometown Little Rock tomorrow,” he also said.
In another video, Guo repeatedly requested information about a private jet and one of its frequent passengers, including where he was going, who he was meeting there, what hotels he had chosen and his passport copy.
Guo had claimed the jet was given to a relative of China’s top graft-buster Wang Qishan by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and that Wang’s relatives were undisclosed shareholders of the firm. The group has denied Guo’s allegations and is suing him for defamation.
The third video features audio of Guo’s apparent attempts to bribe Song, including offering him a credit card and promising to help him and his wife get British passports.
The account that uploaded the videos called “The Truth 2 about Guo Wengui”, was created only two days ago.
Videos attacking Guo have been uploaded on YouTube before.
A video of the former vice-minister of state security Ma Jian confessing to receiving bribes from Guo and how used his power to help the tycoon was uploaded by a YouTube account called “The truth about Guo Wengui” in April.
That account was created the previous month and the first video it published to discredit Guo was also carried by the social media account of the Ministry of Public Security in China.
YouTube is blocked in China and can only be accessed through a virtual private network that circumvents mainland censorship.