China dials-up legal pressure on exiled tycoon Guo

Billionaire businessman Guo Wengui speaks during an interview in New York City. - Reuters file pic

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: Chinese prosecutors have filed new lawsuits against employees of two firms connected to fugitive Guo Wengui, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday, as Beijing continues to turn up the legal pressure on the New York-based tycoon at the centre of a political feud with the ruling Communist Party.

Chinese-born Guo has recently unleashed a deluge of corruption allegations against high-level Communist Party officials and is facing multiple lawsuits in a number of different jurisdictions.

Prosecutors in the northern city of Dalian on Friday filed a lawsuit against some staff of Beijing Pangu Investment on suspicion of duty encroachment and misappropriation of funds, Xinhua said citing judicial sources.

On the same day in Kaifeng City in Henan province, prosecutors filed a suit against Guo-controlled Henan Yuda Real Estate company and its employees on allegations of loan fraud and bill acceptance, Xinhua added.

Guo did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters. However, he has previously said the main purpose of legal cases against him was to paint him as a criminal, bolstering an Interpol global "red notice" for his arrest, issued at Beijing's request in April.

The move comes after the Dalian Xigang People's Court in China's northeastern Liaoning province on Friday handed down prison sentences to three employees, Lu Tao, Xie Honglin and Yang Ying, who were first detained in early 2015.

Xie and Yang's sentences were wholly suspended.

Guo has disputed the facts of the Dalian case.

In a live-streamed online interview with U.S.-based Chinese-language political gossip site Mingjing News on Friday night, which lasted more than four hours, the Chinese-born businessman said the barrage of legal cases against him were designed to silence him.

In New York, he faces defamation lawsuits from aviation-to-financial services conglomerate HNA Group, property developer SOHO China, and prominent journalist Hu Shuli. - Reuters

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