Caixin
Jun 09, 2017 07:18 PM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

Fugitive Guo Wengui Accused of Bribery in Court Document

(Beijing) — Fugitive businessman Guo Wengui paid an anti-corruption official nearly 6 million yuan ($880,000) in bribes for favors that included helping gain control of a private company from which Guo made about 400 million yuan, according to a newly disclosed court document.

The midranking official was Meng Huiqing, who was at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the powerful anti-graft watchdog under the ruling Communist Party.

Meng was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted of bribery last year. His sentence was only recently made public when the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court released the verdict on its website, bjcourt.gov.cn

The documents provide an extensive picture of the relationship between Guo and Meng, describing how the two men colluded to profit from deals they helped broker between corrupt officials and businessmen in difficulty.

Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, fled China in 2014, and is believed to be living in the United States. The property tycoon was behind several controversial business deals and was a close ally of Ma Jian, the disgraced former vice minister of the Ministry of State Security, who was placed under investigation in January 2015 by the CCDI.

A 25-minute video that surfaced online in April showed Ma confessing to using his position and power to benefit Guo’s businesses and taking more than 60 million yuan in bribes from him.

The newly issued court verdict reveals that Guo paid Meng 5.72 million yuan, comprising 3 million in cash in 2011 and two homes worth 2.72 million yuan, in 2009. Meng also received steep discounts on the rental charge for an apartment at an estate developed by one of Guo’s companies. From January 2012 and January 2015, Meng paid only 18,000 yuan a year of rent on the property, far less than the market value of 85,200 yuan a year.

With Meng’s help, Guo was able to broker several deals on behalf of businessmen and government officials, including Zhao Yunan, the then-chairman of Tianjin Huatai, a subsidiary of Tianjin Bohai Circle, the court said.

Zheng Jiefu, the chairman of Tianjin Bohai Circle, told police that Zhao, who was also chairman of another Bohai Circle subsidiary, Beijing Lingyun, falsified signatures and company seals in 2006 and transferred a stake in Beijing Lingyun to another Bohai Circle subsidiary, Beijing Yinbang.

Zhao was detained by police in June 2008, and his family approached Guo through an acquaintance to bail him out, the court said. With Guo’s help, Zhao was granted bail and in return he promised to transfer Tianjin Huatai’s assets, worth 400 million yuan, to Guo, according to the court document.

Citing Zhao’s testimony, the Beijing court said Guo turned to Meng for help to recover Tianjin Huatai’s seals, which were needed for the transaction.

Through a local anti-corruption official, Meng reached out to a deputy police chief in Tianjin to drop the case against Zhao, according to the Beijing court, citing testimony from a deputy Tianjin police chief identified only by his surname, Li.

It is not clear if Zhao and the deputy police chief in Tianjin are under investigation.

With Meng’s help, Guo also sought to peddle influence in other corruption cases, according to testimony from Li You, the CEO of Founder Group, and Yu Li, a Founder Group employee, the court said.

Li was sentenced by a court in Dalian to four and a half years in prison in November 2016 for insider trading and other crimes, and was fined 750 million yuan.

Li and Yu told the Beijing court that they met Meng during a dinner arranged by Guo at a hotel affiliated with Beijing Pangu Investment. They asked for Meng’s help on behalf of an associate in Henan province — an official at a major state-owned coal mine who was taken away by provincial anti-graft officials at the end of 2013.

Meng made a phone call from the hotel dining room to a senior official from the regional commission for discipline inspection in Henan asking for leniency for the coal-mining official, according to the court verdict.

The court offered no details about whether the official was treated differently and whether Guo received money from Li You and Yu Li.

Meng was also convicted of bribery in other cases that had no connection with Guo, according to the court document. These included the receipt of 170,000 yuan from a businessman in the southwestern region of Guangxi, seeking help on behalf of another businessman in the region who was under investigation for alleged tax evasion.

Meng asked for leniency for the businessman during a subsequent meeting with the then party secretary of the tax bureau in Guangxi, according to the court document, which did not provide further details.

Contact reporter Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com)

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