The Real Deal New York

Exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui sues Soho China for $300M

He says developer's slander lawsuit against him cost loss of rental income, termination of construction projects & attorneys’ fees
By Decca Muldowney | February 21, 2019 05:04PM

Guo Wengui (right) and Pan Shiyi (left) with the Sherry Netherland building at 781 5th Avenue (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

Exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui is suing Soho China — China’s largest office developer and a partial owner of the General Motors Building in Manhattan — for damages totaling $300 million.

Guo, who made his fortune in real estate in China, is now an outspoken critic of what he calls rampant corruption in the Chinese Communist Party. He has been seeking asylum in the United States since 2014.

He bought a $67.5 million co-op at the Sherry Netherland in 2015, where he lives in self-imposed exile while broadcasting his opinions on China on social media.

His latest suit was filed in response to litigation brought by Soho China, and its chairman Pan Shiyi, against Guo in June, 2017. In that case, Soho China and Pan sued Guo for slander, after a series of YouTube videos and other social media posts in which he accused the firm of illegally colluding with Chinese government officials, procuring favorable zoning changes for their properties and violating government regulations in connection with their real estate business.

Pan vehemently denied Guo’s allegations, calling them “nonsense.” However, Soho China dropped the slander suit against Guo in February, 2018.

Now, Guo is coming after Soho China, claiming their “malicious and unjustified attack” cost him “the loss of rental income, termination of construction projects, and attorneys’ fees,” according to a suit filed in New York today. He is seeking $300 million.

Guo — who is also known as Miles Kwok — alleged in 2017 that Pan and other Beijing developers rigged bids for land near China’s National Stadium in 2006. He also questioned if Pan and his wife Zhang Xin really owned the Hong Kong-based development company.

Soho China did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Neither did lawyers for Guo.

In 2013, Soho China and the family of Brazilian banking magnate Moise Safra paid $1.4 billion for a 40 percent stake in the GM building.

This is not the only litigation Guo is involved in. In January, TRD reported that Guo was suing his former lawyers at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, alleging malpractice. That suit was also brought in response to previous litigation filed by the law firm, who went to court in November to recover $640,000 in unpaid legal fees from Guo.

David Boies, a partner at the firm, was formerly Guo’s neighbor at the Sherry-Netherland, until he sold his $13.6 million apartment in January.

Guo is also seeking to sell his Sherry-Netherland pad. He first listed the seven bedroom, eight bathroom apartment for $86 million in 2015. Since then he’s dropped the price to $67 million.

Richard Steinberg of Douglas Elliman has the listing.