China Seeks Arrest of Billionaire Who Accused Officials’ Relatives of Graft


A Chinese-born billionaire who in recent months has publicized allegations of corruption against relatives of high-ranking Communist Party officials is now a wanted man after Beijing asked Interpol to issue a global request for his arrest.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the country had asked Interpol, the global police organization, to arrest the billionaire, Guo Wengui, hours before he appeared on television to deliver what he said would be a “nuclear bomb” of corruption allegations against the families of top Communist Party officials.

Mr. Guo, 50, has lived abroad for the past two years after a business deal to acquire a brokerage went sour. In March, he accused the son of a former top Communist Party official of corruption. On April 15, The New York Times, citing corporate records and an interview with one of the official’s relatives, reported that some of his allegations could be substantiated.

China asked Interpol to issue a so-called red notice to its member countries for Mr. Guo’s arrest, Lu Kang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters on Wednesday in Beijing. Mr. Lu said that the notice had been issued, but that Mr. Guo’s name does not appear on Interpol’s wanted list. Interpol, in a statement, said that any of its 190 member countries could request that wanted notices not be publicized.

Mr. Guo is accused of giving 60 million renminbi, or about $8.7 million, in bribes to a former top intelligence official, Ma Jian, The South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the matter whom the newspaper did not identify. Mr. Ma has been referred to in Chinese news outlets as Mr. Guo’s political patron.

Countries do not have to honor red notices, and as of Wednesday, Mr. Guo was not in custody. Instead, he was at his penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which he bought in 2015, through a shell company, for $67.5 million. Two reporters from Voice of America’s Chinese-language service conducted a live television interview with him in the apartment.

In the interview, Mr. Guo called the report that he bribed Mr. Ma “false,” and he said he was not a Chinese citizen. He said he held passports from 11 other countries. Mr. Guo is a member of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

He said he was in regular contact with F.B.I. agents and was not worried that he would be arrested. Mr. Guo said the issuance of the red notice was an attempt to prevent the Voice of America interview.

In the interview, Mr. Guo made new allegations about business empires secretly controlled by Chinese leaders, in this instance the nephew of a current member of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee. Those claims could not be immediately substantiated.

“Corrupt people do not represent the Chinese government, they do not represent the Chinese people,” Mr. Guo said. “If they weren’t so corrupt, they wouldn’t be scared of me.”

Voice of America, which operates independently but is funded by the United States government, billed the interview as three hours long, running promotions about Mr. Guo’s promise to deliver “nuclear bomb” revelations about corruption, with the first hour broadcast and the remainder in an online webcast.

But about 15 minutes into the second hour, Voice of America abruptly ended the interview, setting off intense speculation in Chinese-language social media as to why the broadcast ended.

China’s government pressed Voice of America to cancel the interview, an official with the broadcaster said. The Foreign Ministry summoned its Beijing-based correspondent, Bill Ide, on Monday, where he was told that the interview would be viewed by China as interference in its internal affairs and told that it might affect the renewal of journalists’ visas, according to two people at Voice of America with knowledge of the meeting.

Officials from the Chinese Embassy in Washington also called Voice of America in an effort to stop the interview from taking place, one person with direct knowledge of the conversations said. The person added that at no time were executives at Voice of America contacted by the United States government about the interview. The people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about communications with the Chinese government.

Voice of America executives, led by its director, Amanda Bennett, proceeded with the interview, with the understanding that the live portion last only one hour. The rest of the interview would be recorded to give reporters a chance to check Mr. Guo’s allegations and allow the Chinese government an opportunity to respond, the broadcaster said.

“In a miscommunication, the stream was allowed to continue beyond the first hour,” a Voice of America spokeswoman, Bridget Serchak, said in an emailed statement. “When this was noticed, the feed was terminated. We will release content from these interviews and will continue to report on corruption issues.”


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