Details emerge of billionaire’s ties to corrupt senior officials

2017-04-25 01:14:48 GMT2017-04-25 09:14:48(Beijing Time) Global Times

Video allegedly shows fallen intelligence chief admitting collusion

Since China's foreign ministry confirmed that billionaire Guo Wengui has been put on an Interpol list for wanted criminal suspects, more details of his suspected involvement with fallen corrupt officials have been revealed online.

In the latest video featuring China's former deputy head of the Ministry of State Security Ma Jian, who was deposed in 2015 and is currently under investigation for graft, Ma revealed details of several cases of illegal conduct by Guo, a real estate mogul who maintained close relations with a number of high-ranking officials, some of whom have since been investigated or jailed for corruption.

Guo fled China to the US in 2015, but his legend dates back to a 2006 graft case where, in order to secure a key land development project in Beijing, Guo toppled the former vice mayor of Beijing, Liu Zhihua, by sending the authorities a sex tape of Liu and his mistress.

Guo's manipulation of senior officials, either through money, sex or blackmail, was revealed by Caixin magazine in a series of reports in 2015, in which they dubbed Guo "the hunter of power." Though Guo has since blasted the reports, some details of the reports were recently confirmed by a videotaped confession, seemingly given by Ma, former deputy minister of State security.

In the video, which was posted on YouTube and other video sharing websites last week, a man appearing to be Ma tells in detail of his collusion with Guo when he was in office. He said he used his power and helped the tycoon eavesdrop and get rid of business rivals, deleted "negative" reports on the Internet and threatened a journalist to give up a story on Guo's empire, among other crimes. Guo, in return, offered a combined 60 million yuan ($8.7 million) in bribes to Ma between 2008 and 2014, Ma said in the video.

The source and the authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified by the Global Times. However, it came out at almost the same time as China's foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Wednesday that Interpol had issued a "red notice" for Guo over his suspected involvement in a number of graft scandals.

On Friday, Facebook suspended Guo's account. After he complained publicly, Facebook said the suspension had been a mistake, and his account was restored, The New York Times reported. Guo also runs at least two Twitter accounts under the name of Miles Kwok, another name he uses, on which he keeps tweeting defiantly about the accusations against him. 

Elusive manipulator

The Beijing News described Guo as an elusive manipulator who hid in the shadows of power. Some of his staff from Beijing Zenith Holdings interviewed by the paper described him as a pious Buddhist, while others accused him of sexually harassing female workers. Some said he would "spend money like water" on people who could be of help to him, but at the same he had a history of betraying his partners and ruthlessly sending his benefactors to jail.

His downfall and exile in 2015 was allegedly due to a feud between him and former partner Li You, then CEO of conglomerate the Founder Group. Li narrowly escaped police arrest in December 2014, which was orchestrated by Guo, and in turn, reported Guo and Ma to China's discipline watchdog, Caixin reported.

According to Caixin, the downfall of China's top insurance regulator, Xiang Junbo, earlier this month is also allegedly related to Guo.

Caixin quoted anonymous sources as saying that Xiang, then board director of Agricultural Bank of China, approved a loan worth 3.2 billion yuan to Guo's company in 2010.

According to The Beijing News, Guo fabricated construction documents, contracts and financial statements to acquire the loan. The report says 600 million yuan of the loan was transferred to Hong Kong through underground channels, of which 70 million was used to buy a villa instead of constructing his real estate project.

Caixin also alleged that Guo is connected to Wang Youjie, former Party chief of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, who was handed a suspended death sentence in 2007 for corruption. 

Zhang Yue, former head of the Hebei Provincial Political and Legal Affairs Commission, was another official who provided help to Guo's business and was removed from his post in 2016.

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