Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who is wanted by Interpol, is at the centre of a story of corruption, spying, and charges against the Chinese government.
Guo, who heads a real estate empire, owns assets estimated at around 120 billion yuan (US$ 17.4 billion).
For the past two years he has been living in the United States, probably because of allegations of corruption that have accumulated against him over recent years.
Two days ago, he had a long interview with the Voice of America radio (VoA), deemed a pillar of freedom of expression, never subject to Chinese power.
In the highly anticipated webcast, Guo was supposed to talk about corruption among high ranking Chinese officials. Instead of lasting three hours, it was interrupted after an hour.
Journalists at VoA said that days before the interview the Chinese government had put pressure on the broadcaster to cancel it.
In a statement, VoA’s public relations director Bridget Serchak said: “In a miscommunication, the stream was allowed to continue beyond the first hour. When this was noticed the feed was terminated. We will release content from these interviews and will continue to report on corruption issues.”
On the same day of the interview, Interpol issued a red notice for Guo’s arrest on corruption charges, following a request from the Chinese government. China's Deputy Security Minister, Meng Hongwei, is Interpol's current head.
In addition, on the day of the interview, 19 April, state media broadcast the "confession" of former Deputy Minister of State Security, Ma Jian.
In the video, Ma claims that he received gifts worth 60 million yuan (US$ 8.7 million) from Guo in exchange of favours like wiretaps from competitors, stopping police investigations into Guo’s affairs and those of his company, and threats against journalists who wrote damaging articles about him.
During the VoA interview, Guo said that claims that he bribed Ma Jian were incorrect. However, they do highlight the links of corruption between politicians and business people.
In the past few years, President Xi Jinping has been involved in a fight against corruption, which could bring down the Chinese Communist Party. For some however, the fight is politically motivated and aimed at eliminating his opponents.
For some time, Guo has been threatening to tell all about corruption in the Politburo. Reacting to the VoA’s censorship and Interpol's arrest warrant, he said he wanted to disclose all the "overseas transactions" of Wang Qishan's family. Wang is the public face of China’s anti-corruption drive, and Xi’s close friend.