Chinese businessman Guo sued in New York for slander, libel

Chinese real estate businessman Guo Wengui, who has feuded with China’s ruling Communist Party, faces at least three U.S. lawsuits by companies and people in China claiming he made defamatory statements tying them to corruption.

Guo, who chose in 2015 to live in exile in a lavish New York apartment, has used social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube to launch blistering attacks on many of China’s elite, accusing them of graft amid a national anti-corruption campaign. Some of his targets are firing back in New York state court.

HNA Group Co., a Chinese conglomerate, sued Thursday, claiming Guo made defamatory and libelous statements, including that Chinese Communist party officials are undisclosed shareholders in the company.

Guo has also falsely claimed government officials and relatives used company “aircraft for purely personal reasons, including to engage in illicit sexual activity,” according to a legal notice in New York state Supreme Court. The complaint wasn’t immediately available. HNA, Deutsche Bank AG’s largest shareholder, owns commercial real estate in the U.S. It seeks unspecified money damages.

An attorney who represents Guo on the Caixin Media and Soho China cases defended his statements.

“He stands by the veracity of the comments that he’s been making,” said attorney Duncan Levin. “The complaints against him are baseless. As a matter of law, their complaints are simply wrong.”

Guo, who also goes by the name Miles Kwok, has a strong social media presence with more than 250,000 followers on Twitter and slickly produced videos on Facebook and YouTube that garner tens of thousands of views.

In April, Caixin Media Co. Ltd and its editor-in-chief, Hu Shuli, sued Guo for libel. Hu claimed Guo launched a barrage of defamatory claims after she published a report examining his business dealings and asserting he conspired to oust Beijing’s deputy mayor. A furious Guo responded with a campaign of public lies, according to the complaint by Caixin and Hu.

Guo falsely claimed Hu had an extramarital affair, bore an illegitimate child, participated in sex games, abused drugs, extorted opponents, published false stories and defrauded companies, according to the filing. Caixin and Hu are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Guo has asked for the suit to be dismissed, saying in court that his statements weren’t defamatory and that translations of the comments into English may be incorrect.

A real estate development firm, Soho China Ltd., and its co-founder, Pan Shiyi, sued for slander on June 2. Guo, they claim, falsely accused Soho and Pan of illegally colluding with government officials, manipulating information about company ownership and improperly procuring favorable zoning changes.

Guo also falsely stated that Pan’s wife, the company’s chief executive officer, had an extramarital affair with the son of a high-ranking government official, according to the complaint. David Voreacos, Andrew Harris, Bloomberg

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