China is on the hunt for a flamboyant billionaire who is threatening to expose evidence of corruption at the top levels of the Communist Party.
On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Interpol had issued a “red notice” for the arrest of tycoon Guo Wengui at China’s request, while failing to give any more details about the case. Guo, known for making a fortune as a Beijing real estate developer and for keeping a lively social media presence, has more recently switched his focus to dishing dirt about the families of China’s elite to overseas media.
Citing anonymous sources, the South China Morning Post reported that the 50-year-old tycoon is wanted in connection with former state security vice-minister Ma Jian, one of the top “tigers” taken down by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Guo is alleged to have bribed the disgraced spymaster with 60 million yuan ($8.72 million).
Guo has denied these accusations, claiming that he has become the target of a political witch hunt by corrupt Chinese official who are afraid that he will expose evidence of their corruption.
On Wednesday night, Guo was scheduled to give a highly-anticipated, three-hour long interview with Voice of America that would be live-streamed over YouTube. However, the interview was mysteriously cut short more than an hour in.
Before being cut off, Guo accused Beijing of using “terror tactics” against his family and employees in an attempt to shut him up. “If they weren’t so corrupt, they wouldn’t be so scared of me,” Guo said during the interview.
Meanwhile, China has launched an international publicity campaign against Guo that SCMP calls “unprecedented” — using both traditional state media and YouTube to broadcast information about Guo’s alleged links with corruption and his controversial business dealings over the years.
Guo left China years ago and is now believed to be hiding out in the United States where he is a frequent visitor of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort (it was even feared that he would show up while Xi was there). An Interpol “red notice” is a request that an individual be located and provisionally arrested pending extradition. China does not have an extradition treaty with the US, making the country a favorite hideout for China’s most-wanted.
Last year, China’s former Vice Minister of Public Security, Meng Hongwei, was elected as the president of Interpol, a move which alarmed many international observers who worried that Meng might begin shifting more of the international policing organization’s focus and resources onto investigations favored by Beijing.
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