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Guo Wengui

Former business partner appeals to US to repatriate fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui

Qu Long says he will sue the exiled billionaire in carefully scripted press conference ahead of Trump’s visit to Beijing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2017, 9:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2017, 11:10pm

A former business partner turned foe of Chinese fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui has made another public appeal to the United States to repatriate him to China, a week before US President Donald Trump is due to visit Beijing.

Qu Long – who was released from prison in September after a high court overturned his 15-year sentence for embezzlement – said on Wednesday that he would soon file a criminal lawsuit against Guo. He claimed his “former good friend and partner” had used his connections with now-disgraced officials to have him framed and thrown in jail after the two fell out over a business dispute.

“Please help me and other victims [of Guo] in China to appeal to the US government to repatriate Guo Wengui to China and let him be punished as soon as possible,” Qu said in a carefully scripted press conference in Beijing. Some of the media outlets at the conference had been invited by the authorities.

The Chinese government is doing all it can to repatriate exiled billionaire Guo, who has sought political asylum in the US. He is wanted by Beijing on corruption charges and is subject to a “red notice” issued by Interpol at the Chinese government’s request.

The controversial tycoon has become China’s highest profile fugitive after hurling a barrage of explosive, yet largely unsubstantiated, claims of high-level Communist Party corruption in the lead-up to a key congress that ended last week.

Fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui assailed by businessman who says he was framed for crimes

Qu had already spoken to a few media outlets in interviews arranged by authorities immediately after he was released from jail, having served six years of his sentence. But his appeal to the US government on Tuesday was made before a wider audience of more than a dozen local and international reporters, and timed just a week before Trump is due to visit China during his first Asian tour since taking office.

Guo and his lawyer in New York have yet to respond to the South China Morning Post’s request for comment about Qu’s allegations.

Qu is the latest of a series of Guo’s associates who have spoken out against him with the backing of the authorities, as Beijing continues its efforts to discredit Guo and bring him to heel.

Apart from recounting how their relations had soured from the initial “honeymoon” to the final “rupture” and how Guo had framed him, Qu also said that Guo’s allegations against senior party leaders were “nonsense” based on fake evidence.

But when asked, Qu denied the authorities were behind Wednesday’s press conference. “I can clearly tell you no public security organ or other government department has told me to do this,” he said.

He also denied the press conference had anything to do with Trump’s visit.

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Qu’s conviction for embezzling 855 million yuan (US$128.88 million) from a company owned by Guo was quashed in September by the Hebei High People’s Court, which cited “unclear facts and inadequate evidence” to support it.

But Qu has yet to regain total freedom as he is on bail awaiting sentencing after he pleaded guilty in a separate embezzlement case involving four other associates of Guo.

Qu’s press conference came after weeks of silence from Guo on social media – his main launch pad for attacks on the party’s top ranks in the months leading up to its twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle that saw President Xi Jinping cement his grip on power.

Guo’s last post on Twitter – where he has some 459,000 followers and has racked up more than 6,400 tweets in the past eight months – was on October 19, the next day after the week-long congress began.

It included a photo of Guo looking elated as he shakes hands with Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon. According to his social media posts, it was the third time Guo and Bannon had met.