Chinese tycoon on Interpol list vows to fight on

Guo Wengui claimed he was the target of a political witch hunt after he had threatened to expose "explosive information" about corruption at the top of Chinese politics.
Guo Wengui claimed he was the target of a political witch hunt after he had threatened to expose "explosive information" about corruption at the top of Chinese politics.

Billionaire who alleges top-level graft in China says he's a victim

BEIJING • The controversial property tycoon who made claims of high-level corruption within the ruling Chinese Communist Party and is now the subject of an Interpol "red notice" has said that he would "fight even more resolutely to the end with these bad people".

Writing on his Twitter account, Guo Wengui, 50, who has mainly lived in the United States since leaving China two years ago, added that "this is all just the beginning".

China's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that Interpol had issued a "red notice" for Guo, who is known to have close ties with disgraced former state security vice- minister Ma Jian. Guo had left China after what he says was a business dispute with relatives of a retired top Communist Party official.

The South China Morning Post first reported that an Interpol "red notice" was issued for Guo at China's request on Tuesday evening, citing unidentified sources.

The newspaper said Guo was suspected of bribing Ma with 60 million yuan (S$12.2 million). Ma, who worked in counter-espionage, is being prosecuted for graft and was expelled from the party in December.

"What we understand is that Interpol has already issued a 'red notice' for criminal suspect Guo Wengui," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, without elaborating. He also declined to specify the crimes Guo is wanted for, according to Reuters.

A "red notice" is an international alert for a wanted person.

Guo said on Twitter that Interpol is an organisation, not a government, and it has no administrative powers. He added that for years, he had had no Chinese identity papers. "This will only make Wengui fight even more resolutely to the end with these bad people. This is all just the beginning!" he wrote.

Known for his love of supercars and social media, the flamboyant billionaire claims he is the victim of a political witch hunt after he threatened to expose "explosive information" about corruption at the top of Chinese politics, The Guardian reported.

In a live television interview with Voice of America's (VoA) Mandarin service broadcast late on Wednesday, Guo denied bribing Ma and made fresh allegations about business empires controlled by the families of Chinese leaders. The claims could not be immediately substantiated. While the broadcast aired as planned, it ended well short of the scheduled three hours advertised beforehand. About 80 minutes in, a VoA host abruptly said it needed to end the broadcast due to "certain reasons", Reuters reported.

VoA said the original plan was always to keep the live stream to one hour and attributed the abrupt end to "miscommunication". VoA spokesman Bridget Serchak said content from those interviews will be released and VoA will continue to report on corruption issues.

Responding to Reuters' questions on Guo, Interpol said it does not comment on specific cases without the approval of the country sharing information on probes and fugitives.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese tycoon on Interpol list vows to fight on'. Print Edition | Subscribe