China firm files lawsuit against billionaire

BEIJING • China's HNA Group has filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr Guo Wengui, days after it first broke its long silence over what it says were "baseless and meritless" allegations by the exiled billionaire, court documents show.

The aviation and financial services group said Mr Guo had injured HNA's "business reputation" due to "repeated false and defamatory statements", according to a summons filed at the New York State Supreme Court on Thursday.

Mr Guo, whose companies and employees are also the subject of criminal cases in China, did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The summons cites allegations that "officials in China's Communist Party and their relatives are undisclosed shareholders" in the group, and that subsidiary Hainan Airlines had allowed government officials and their relatives to use its aircraft "for purely personal reasons". HNA said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Guo's allegations had harmed its reputation and it intended to vigorously pursue its claim.

China's judiciary said separately yesterday that it would prosecute additional cases against Mr Guo's companies, Xinhua news agency reported, after a court in Dalian sentenced three of his employees for fraudulently obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in loans.

Mr Guo has disputed the facts of the Dalian case and said its main purpose was to establish a criminal case against him, in order to bolster an Interpol global "red notice" for his arrest that was issued at Beijing's request in April.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2017, with the headline 'China firm files lawsuit against billionaire'. Print Edition | Subscribe