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Lawsuit filed in US against fugitive Chinese billionaire

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-13 22:09

Nine Chinese mainland-based construction companies jointly filed a lawsuit against fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the United States, accusing him of failing to pay project debts amounting to 272 million yuan ($40 million), plus bank interest, business magazine Caixin reported on Tuesday.

According to the case file delivered to the court on June 9, Guo is now leading a luxury life in the US after he illegally transferred huge amounts of assets from China.

The complaint charged that Guo hired the most expensive lawyers with illegally obtained money to defend him in the US, while the creditors were struggling to keep business alive at home, Caixin reported.

The nine companies said they signed contracts with Beijing Zheng Quan Holding Co and Beijing Pangu Investment Co — two companies under Guo's control — between 2007 and 2015.

They were contracted to build or decorate Jinquan Square and Pangu Plaza in Beijing.

After the projects were finished, Guo delayed payment and secretly transferred assets from the two companies to the US for personal use, the complaint said.

The nine companies had filed lawsuits in numerous courts in China over the years and obtained rulings in their favor — that the two companies must pay the debts immediately.

However, as the assets of Guo's companies had been transferred abroad, there were insufficient funds to pay.

The group of nine then brought the case to the US court, demanding that Guo and the companies to pay the 272 million yuan and interest. They also asked the court to forbid any further transfers by Guo.

A manager surnamed Zhou of one of the plaintiffs — Beijing Fu Le Hong Ma Jian Zhu Zhuang Shi Gong Cheng Ltd — told Caixin that the company had completed projects worth 20 million yuan from 2008 to 2012, and was still owed at least 7 million yuan.

In an apparent response to the case, Guo wrote on his Twitter account on June 11 that 145 companies currently have debt disputes with him involving 18 billion yuan.

"Why there are only nine companies coming to the US? I like a group fight. Why not come together? That will be fun," he wrote.

Guo often showed off his luxury lifestyle in the US on Twitter. According to Caixin, he currently lives in Manhattan on the 18th floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel building at No 781 Fifth Avenue, which he bought in the 2015 for $67.5 million. He said recently that he would move to a new residence covering 1,800 square meters from his current one, which is around 900 sq m.

On Friday, three former executives who worked for Guo pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining a loan and foreign currency during their trial in Dalian, Liaoning province.

The three former executives, Lyu Tao, Xie Honglin and Yang Ying, confessed to taking a loan of 3.2 billion yuan ($471 million) from Agricultural Bank of China in the name of Beijing Pangu Investment Co — which Guo controlled — by using fake contracts, seals and other materials in 2010. The company was also sued on the same charge.

Guo fled overseas about three years ago. Interpol issued a "red notice" — the closest thing to an international arrest warrant — for Guo in April, according to the Foreign Ministry.

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