The Real Deal New York

HNA Group files defamation suit against exiled Chinese real estate mogul

Company claims Guo Wengui lied about Communist Party official’s ties
August 31, 2017 10:00AM

HNA’s Chen Feng and Guo Wengui

HNA Group filed a defamation lawsuit in New York against a self-exiled Chinese real estate mogul who claimed that a high-ranking official in the country’s Communist Party has ties to the company.

HNA’s lawsuit says Guo Wengui made “repeatedly false and defamatory statements,” including a claim that Yao Qing, a nephew of Wang Qishan, the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption official and close supporter of Chinese President Xi Jinpin, is one of HNA’s shareholders, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The case is in New York because Guo, who also uses the name Miles Kwok, lives and runs a business in Manhattan.

HNA said the comments caused the company to lose business and suffer a drop in share prices, but Guo said he welcomes a legal spat with giant Chinese conglomerate in the United States.

“It will be a wonderful thing to have a legal battle with HNA Group here,” Guo wrote in a Twitter message to the Journal. “I hope that the U.S. legal system would give us a fair ruling regarding issues including [HNA’s] business in New York.”

HNA is seeking at least $300 million damages and a court ruling that the statements were false and defamatory. Disclosures earlier this year about a New York-based charity that owns a majority of the company’s shares have raised some eyebrows regarding its ownership structure.

Guo, meanwhile, is in the cross hairs of the Chinese government, which has described him as a “criminal suspect” and asked Interpol to issue a notice for his arrest. Chinese prosecutors put three executives from his company on trial for fraud in June. [WSJ]Rich Bockmann