A judge dismissed a $300 million lawsuit against Chinese developer SOHO China and principal Shiya Pan, according to court documents filed today.
New York Supreme Court Judge Paul Goetz dismissed a complaint brought by Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire and real estate developer who alleged he had been unjustifiably sued by Soho two years ago. The judge found no indication that the 2017 lawsuit had been “perversely utilized” by Soho for any other goal than to protect its reputation.
In his complaint, Guo accused Soho of a “malicious and knowingly baseless attempt to badger [Guo] through unjustifiable litigation.” Guo alleged that as a result of that case, his construction projects were canceled and he lost rental income. He sought $300 million in damages and attorney fees.
Soho ’s lawsuit had accused Guo of slander for accusing the company on social media of improperly procuring favorable zoning changes to increase the value of its development, colluding with Chinese government officials and breaking regulatory agreements. Guo even called into question the true ownership of Soho, alleging that high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party “secretly own and control” Soho.
Soho dropped its case in 2018 while a motion to dismiss from Guo was still pending.
Guo, who also goes by Miles Kwok and Kwok Ho Wan, has been outspoken about corruption in the Chinese government and has been seeking asylum in the United States since 2014. Guo’s whistleblowing has drawn the ire of “corrupt individuals” who hope to maintain their “ill-gotten wealth,” his complaint alleged.
Soho, China’s largest office developer, partnered with Brazilian financier Moise Safra to acquire a 40 percent stake in New York City’s GM building in 2013. Soho also experimented with co-working through its brand 3Q, which debuted in 2016 and leased 16,000 desks in Beijing and Shanghai.