Guo Wengui

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Guo Wengui
Guo Wen-gui in April 2017.jpg
Guo Wengui in 2017
Born (1970-05-10) 10 May 1970 (age 50) or (1968-10-05) 5 October 1968 (age 51)
Nationality
OccupationBusinessman, political activist
Known forBeijing Zenith Holdings
Spouse(s)Yue Qingzhi
ChildrenGuo Mei, Guo Qiang
WebsiteGuo Media
Guo Wengui
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese郭文貴
Simplified Chinese郭文贵
English name
EnglishMiles Kwok

Guo Wengui (Chinese: 郭文贵; born 10 May 1970 (self claim)[2] or 5 October 1968[3]), also known under the names Guo Wen Gui, Guo Haoyun (郭浩云), Miles Guo, and Miles Kwok,[4] is a Chinese billionaire businessman who later became a political activist and controls Beijing Zenith Holdings (via proxy people Li Lin and Jiang Yuehua),[5] and other assets.[6][7] At the peak of his career, he was 73rd among the richest in China. After falling out with members of the Communist Party leadership, Guo was accused of corruption and other misdeeds and forced to flee China. He fled to the United States in late 2014 after learning he was going to be arrested after allegations against him including bribing, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape.[8]

Despite Guo's claims of being a whistle-blower, his statements were unable to be verified by newspapers such as The New York Times.[9]

Biography[edit]

Guo was born in Shen County, Shandong, China. He is the seventh of eight children in the family.[10] He began his business career in Zhengzhou, before moving to Beijing to secure various construction deals during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His most famous asset was the Pangu Plaza, an Olympic torch-shaped condominium residence built prior to the Beijing games.[4]

Guo, long prominent in real estate development and investment circles, came to fame in 2015 after a lengthy investigative report by Caixin media, controlled by Hu Shuli, was released, detailing Guo's political connections, business dealings, and hardball tactics against former rivals.

Guo responded by claiming Hu defamed him and responded with a set of personal accusations against Hu, claiming Hu had a romantic entanglement with his business rival. Guo was believed to have left China sometime in 2015; since then he is believed to have been shuttling between Europe and the United States. He opened a Twitter account in early 2017, frequently criticizing individuals within the Chinese establishment. He has reserved particular scorn for He Jintao [zh] (not to be confused with former Paramount Leader Hu Jintao), the son of former Central Commission for Discipline Inspection secretary He Guoqiang.[4]

Many officials with whom he was said to have ties have fallen under the dragnet of the anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping, including Ma Jian, the former deputy director of Chinese National Security Bureau, and Zhang Yue, the former Political and Legal Affairs Secretary of Hebei.[citation needed] While generally supportive of General Secretary Xi Jinping, Guo has characterized parts of the corruption campaign as a political witch hunt.[4]

From the beginning of 2017, Guo is in self-imposed exile in New York City, where he owns an US$82 million apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, overlooking Central Park. He has continued to conduct a political agenda to bring attention to alleged corruption in the Chinese political system from his New York home.[11] In November 2018, Guo put the apartment up for sale for US$67 million.[12]

Guo is a member of U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and Mark's Club in Mayfair, London.[4][13]

Since 23 January 2017, Guo accepted multiple interviews with media such as Mingjing, VOA and BBC. Guo also started a campaign of exposing corruptions of some of the highest officials of China on his YouTube and Twitter channel through live monologues. On 20 April, Guo's supposedly 3-hour live interview with VOA was abruptly terminated by VOA during the interview.[14] English media like New York Times,[15][16][17][18] Financial Times[19] and Forbes[20] also reported about Guo and his campaign.

In June 2017, one of Guo's targets of being "exposed", HNA Group, sued Guo for defamation.[21][22]

In August 2018, several Hong Kong media, such as Ming Pao and South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong Police had frozen the assets of the Guo family, accused of money laundering under the name of Guo's daughter Guo Mei.[23][24] In March 2019, his mother died in China.[25]

On 3 June 2020 Guo and Steve Bannon participated in declaring a "New Federal State of China" that "would overthrow the Chinese government". In New York City, planes were seen carrying banners which said "Congratulations to Federal State of New China!".[26][27][28]

Beijing Zenith Holdings[edit]

Beijing Zenith Holdings (Chinese: 北京政泉控股) was a company owned in 2013 by Li Lin and Jiang Yuehua via two corporate entities (Chinese: 郑州浩云实业有限公司 and 郑州浩天实业有限公司).[5] The company acquired a minority stake in PKU Healthcare from state-owned Founder Group's PKU Healthcare Group.[5] However, Beijing Zenith Holdings allegedly failed to pay PKU Healthcare Group after the shares were already transferred. To finalize the payment, Beijing Zenith Holdings allegedly borrowed the money from PKU Resources Group Holdings, a sister company of PKU Healthcare Group. All three companies were fined by the China Securities Regulatory Commission in 2016.[29]

In 2015, Chinese media reported that Zenith Holdings was actually owned by Guo Wengui, and Li Lin and Jiang Yuehua were his proxies.[30]

Zenith Holdings also acquired a minority stake in Founder Securities by underwriting the new shares.[31]

In October 2018, Zenith Holdings was fined CNY 60 billion for irregularity in acquiring the securities company.[32][33] In its ruling, the court in Dalian found that Beijing Zenith had made RMB 11.9 billion in illegal profits.[34]

Credibility of documents[edit]

On 5 October 2017, Guo made public in Washington a so-called "confidential document of the Chinese government" with the self-proclaimed verification of the U.S. government, featuring China's "working plan of secretly dispatching 27 police officers" to the United States on field duty in 2017.

On 2 January 2018, the Washington Free Beacon published another such document, featuring China's "decision on conducting communication and coordination work" between China and the North Korea to further a solution to the nuclear issue.

Both documents received media attention, with even the U.S. Department of State claiming their own close attention.[citation needed]

On 23 April 2018, The Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau held a press conference on the forgery of national-level documents by Guo. They reported that Guo had incited and instigated twin brothers Chen Zhiyu and Chen Zhiheng to forge over 30 national-level official documents as the main content of his so-called "revelation" online, which were documents faked to be issued by the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, and its relevant ministries and commissions.[citation needed]

The proceedings state that in May 2017, Guo Wengui publicly offered rewards for so-called "confidential documents" of the Chinese Government, which was deemed a profitable opportunity by Chen Zhiyu and Chen Zhiheng. The former reached out to Guo under the pseudonym "Zhou Guoming". Guo started working with Chen Zhiyu in August, 2017. They agreed that a 4,000 US dollars monthly salary would be paid to hire Chen Zhiyu, who would work full-time to provide needed materials for Guo's "revelation." Guo also promised to cover Chen's travel expenses and fees to purchase mobile phones, and contribute 50 million dollars to set up a fund at Chen's disposal. At the invitation by Guo Wengui, Chen Zhiyu met with Guo and his assistants in the U.S. four times.[35] Chongqing police found that since August 2017, Guo has been in league with the Chen brothers, instigating them to forge more than 30 official documents in the name of the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, and related ministries and commissions, before spreading the documents overseas. Guo and the Chen brothers have also fabricated information claiming that a number of central and provincial government officials had illegitimate children, houses, mistresses and large bank deposits abroad, according to the investigation.

On 18 February 2018, Chongqing police arrested Chen Zhiyu and Chen Zhiheng in the provinces of Guangdong and Hunan respectively, and confiscated related items. Both suspects confessed their crimes of forging official documents to the police. Police also discovered a large number of forged official documents of state organs in the suspects' computers and hard drives, involving areas such as China's national defense, diplomacy and financial policies. They found fabricated files of the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.[36]

Criminal charges[edit]

In June 2017, staff of one of Guo's other investment vehicles, Pangu Investment, were charged for scamming banks on loans. The staff members accused all alleged that they were under the orders of Guo.[37]

Civil lawsuits[edit]

Several companies sued Guo's Pangu Investment and Zenith Holdings in the civil court of the United States, in order to reclaim the non-performing loan the companies allegedly lent to Guo.[38]

In April 2017, Pacific Alliance Asia Opportunity Fund brought suit against Guo in the Commercial Division of New York County, where Guo resided and was seeking asylum from the United States government. In 2008, Pacific Alliance loaned $30 million to Guo's Hong Kong company in connection with the development of Pangu Plaza, site of a “7 Star Hotel” in Beijing near the Olympic arenas. In connection with the loan, Guo signed a personal guarantee. All of the documents and transactions were executed in Hong Kong or China. According to Pacific Alliance, Guo owes approximately $88 million in principal and accrued interest on the loan.[39]

In August 2017, the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group filed a defamation lawsuit in New York against Guo, said Guo made "repeatedly false and defamatory statements", including a claim that Yao Qing, a nephew of Secretary Wang Qishan, the Communist Party's top anti-corruption official and close supporter of Party general secretary Xi Jinping, is one of HNA's shareholders. HNA said the comments caused the company to lose business and suffer a drop in share prices, but Guo said he welcomes a legal spat with giant Chinese conglomerate in the United States.[40] In March 2019, however, HNA claimed that Guo's statements had no longer caught public attention and planned to drop this suit.[41] Almost at the same time, Guo posted tweets on his own social media "Guo Media" declaring that he refused to withdraw from the HNA case and would continue.[42]

On 20 November 2018, Guo held a conference with his close friend Steve Bannon[43] in New York about the death of Wang Jian in France, who was the former chairman of HNA Group. During the conference, he announced the establishment of "Rule of Law foundation"[44] for investigations about Chinese government financial activities as well as those of its supporters and offering financial support for businessmen, officials and others who are persecuted by Communist Party of China and forced to flee overseas like Guo himself.[45] This foundation consists of two parts which are different types of nonprofit organization. One part called "Rule of Law Foundation" is type 501(c)(3) while the other part called "Rule of Law Society" is type 501(c)(4). Kyle Bass serves as the chairman of part 501(c)(3) and Steve Bannon serves as the chairman of part 501(c)(4). The first donation was 100 million dollars from Guo.[46]

In December 2018, Roger Stone agreed to a settlement with Guo in which Stone would retract a false claim, published c. 2015-2016, that Guo had donated to Hillary Clinton.[47]

In July 2019, Guo won a lawsuit in a defamation case with former university professor Xia Yeliang, which is considered as a "rare case of successful action by public figure" by some analysts.[48]

On 23 July 2019, Strategic Vision US LLC, a US commercial research firm which has a commercial dispute with Guo, sued Guo in the US federal court, said Guo was a spy for the Chinese Communist Party.[49][50] However, this lawsuit was dismissed, and after that Guo filed a US$50 million defamation lawsuit in New York against several companies and individuals including Strategic Vision US and CNN host Erin Burnett, who called him a spy during TV program "Outfront".[51][52]

In August 2019, it was revealed that the Hong Kong Police Force froze bank accounts of Guo and other family members in 2017; in court documents requesting funds be released filed by Anton Development Limited, a company held by Guo's daughter Guo Mei. The freezing is part of a judicial review against the freezing of various assets linked to Guo and in relation to a HK$32.9 billion (S$5.8 billion) money laundering investigation, where court filings focus on Guo and other family members using their personal bank accounts and the bank accounts of Anton Development Limited and Hong Kong International Funds Investments Limited; the frozen accounts are said to total at least HK$1.56 billion. A writ provided by Anton Development Limited to police reportedly stated that HK$730 million in the frozen accounts were investment funds from a sovereign fund in Abu Dhabi.[53]

Misinformation campaign against Guo Wengui[edit]

A study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which analysed the tweets of Chinese government controlled accounts banned by Twitter in response to the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests found that the accounts had distributed more material attacking Guo Wengui than any other target including the Hong Kong protestors. Other dissidents targeted by the bot network included Gui Minhai and Yu Wensheng as well as striking PLA veterans.[54] In another report posted by South China Morning Post, the researchers found that more than 38,000 tweets from 618 of the now-suspended Twitter accounts targeted Guo.[55]

GNews[edit]

Guo's site, gnews.org ("GNews"), is part of Guo Media. Guo and GNews have been linked closely with Steve Bannon, who previously worked for Breitbart.

The news site claimed that the Chinese government was going to admit that the coronavirus disease 2019 came from a nearby virus lab, or alternately admit that it was spread by the Chinese military, both of which have been thoroughly debunked.[56][57] Bannon asked Guo on Feb 21 about the sources of coronavirus; he said "there is no doubt this is man-made".[58]

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External links[edit]