Chinese police are investigating a new accusation against one of the ruling Communist Party’s most wanted exiles.
The man, New York-based billionaire Guo Wengui, is being accused of rape.
Two Chinese officials with direct knowledge of the investigation spoke to the Associated Press (AP). They said police are requesting a second Interpol arrest order for Guo. The 50-year-old is accused of attacking his former personal assistant.
The AP reported on Thursday that Guo and his representatives failed to answer repeated requests for comment.
Chinese government lawyers had been building a case against the businessman before this latest accusation. He is under investigation for at least 19 major crimes. They include bribing a top Chinese intelligence official, kidnapping and financial wrongdoing.
Who is Guo Wengui?
Guo Wengui was born into poverty in central China. He started as a small investor, buying and selling fuel supplies, but quickly rose to become a real estate leader. Chinese media say Guo’s rise resulted mainly from his ability to befriend powerful Chinese security officials.
It is reported that Guo won the rights to build the Pangu tower in 2006 for the Beijing Olympic Games by working with Ma Jian. Ma later became China’s chief of counterintelligence operations.
In 2015, anti-corruption investigators detained Ma and later accused him of accepting $8.8 million in bribes from Guo Wengui. Guo fled the country.
In recent months, Guo has been widely followed on social media with his claims of wrongdoing within the Communist Party, even among President Xi Jinping’s closest allies. Most of the claims have yet to be confirmed.
Guo’s posts on Twitter and in YouTube videos tell about what he says are top leaders’ hidden finances and property holdings. He has promised to continue reporting on the Communist Party’s secrets until China frees his relatives from detention and releases his property.
Unusual willingness to talk with media
The Associated Press examined documents related to the rape investigation. It confirmed their details with Chinese official sources in Beijing. The officials asked not to be identified in return for discussing the case.
The willingness to talk to the press is unusual given the political sensitivity of Guo’s case in China. It suggests an urgency in detaining Guo and in stopping any possible trouble leading up to the Chinese Communist Party congress next month.
China and the United States do not have an agreement about surrendering criminal suspects to each other. China hopes that increasing evidence will persuade the U.S. government against extending Guo Wengui’s visa. His visa is believed to expire in October, Chinese officials said.
Top U.S. and Chinese officials have discussed the accusations against Guo, said another person with direct knowledge of the talks. That person spoke on the condition that he or she would not be identified. The source also said Chinese officials are asking the U.S. to cancel Guo’s visa.
It is unclear what steps U.S. officials plan to take, if any. The Trump administration would not comment on the issue.
China’s efforts to gain control of Chinese seeking refuge in the U.S. have become an increasingly divisive issue between the two nations.
The U.S. government often has refused China’s demands for corruption suspects. But in the past three months, the government surrendered two crime suspects to China. One of them is accused of rape.
The case against Guo
In April, China asked Interpol to release a “red notice” seeking Guo’s arrest on corruption-related charges. Chinese officials later sentenced several of his employees for wrongdoing.
Police in central China opened the rape investigation July 5 after a former employee came forward, the officials said.
The woman, whose identity is being withheld by the AP, said she worked as Guo’s personal assistant. She said that Guo raped her several times in New York, London and the Bahamas.
She said people working for Guo took her smartphone, computer, passport and keys. She also said she was barred from leaving her room in his London home.
Police documents say the woman secretly met a lawyer friend in London earlier this year to give a written statement about her experience. The documents say she kept her underclothing, pregnancy tests and abortion pills as evidence.
Chinese officials gave the AP permission to speak with the woman by telephone. She confirmed the story and described fleeing Guo’s apartment to the Chinese Embassy in London in April. There she sought a new passport before returning to China. She said Chinese police had promised her she could bring charges against Guo without facing punishment for having worked for a crime suspect.
“I just want him to face justice for what he did to me,” she said.
Guo did not answer several AP requests for comment. Lawyers representing him at a New York law office also did not answer requests for comment.
In April, Guo told the AP he believed the Interpol notice released at the time was evidence of “state intimidation.” He said China had provided false documents to the international police organization.
Interpol refused to comment about the latest arrest order China is seeking. It told the AP to present questions to China.
I'm Caty Weaver. And I'm Dan Friedell.
Words in This Story
bribe – v. to try to get someone to do something by giving or promising something valuable (such as money) : to give or offer a bribe to (someone)
real estate – n. the business of selling land and buildings
congress – n. a formal meeting in which representatives or experts discuss important matters, make decisions, etc.
expire – v. to end: to no longer be valid after a period of time
abortion pill – n. a drug to end a pregnancy
intimidation – n. the act of making (someone) afraid