2 suspected of bilking fugitive out of 20m yuan
China’s most-wanted fugitive Guo Wengui was cheated out of 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) by two fraudsters, one of them pretending to be a relative of senior officials and posing as a senior military officer, police said.
The other fraudster used a shell company to do his cheating, police said.
The two suspects, Zhao Lixin and Ge Changzhong, were detained by police on fraud charges in June. Song Jun, the intermediary between Guo and the two men, also was arrested in June in a separate case involving suspected personal information infringement.
Guo, the “actual controlling shareholder” of Beijing Pangu Investment and Beijing Zenith Holdings, fled China under suspicion of multiple crimes in August 2014 and is listed under an Interpol “red notice” for wanted fugitives.
Zhao, 50, was living in the southern city of Shenzhen when he was contacted in May 2015 by Song, who formerly worked in civil aviation.
After claiming to have a connection with senior officials, Zhao was offered 20 million yuan in exchange for helping to free one of Guo’s secretaries, surnamed Yang, who had been placed under residential surveillance.
Zhao could not resist such temptation and accepted the offer, along with Ge, vice-president of Zhongzhixiaokang Investment and Management, a shell company without any real business operation, according to police.
Representing Guo, Song first met Zhao and Ge in May 2016 in Shenzhen. Song was assured Zhao was a senior military officer through the meeting in Shenzhen.
According to police, Song said: “The true intention of Guo is to find people to help him reach high-level officials to look into the possibility of his return to China. The request to release the secretary will test Zhao’s connection with senior officials.”
By coincidence, Yang was freed on bail after her residential surveillance came to an end on May 18, 2016. Guo mistakenly thought that Zhao and Ge had organized the release, sending thanks in a WhatsApp message. “Brother Ge, I’m fully confident about you,” Guo wrote.
“Guo was very happy about the result and asked me to meet him in Britain as soon as possible,” Ge told police, adding that he contacted Guo’s assistant to discuss the transfer of money later that day.
According to bank statements, Guo transferred 6 million yuan and 14 million yuan to the accounts of Zhongzhixiaokang and Hong Kong Wansui group, respectively, as Ge requested.
In June 2016, Ge flew to London to meet Guo and discuss business cooperation.
“Guo kept asking me about Zhao, such as his connection with senior officials and how he established the connection. When I said I was not familiar with Zhao’s background, he burst into a fury,” Ge told police. “Guo realized that we could not help him return home.”
In a WhatsApp message to Song, Guo said: “I’m sure that Zhao was telling an outand-out lie that he had connection with senior officials. They are all big swindlers. I’m ashamed that I was cheated. I’ve never seen such con-artists in my life.”
Guo is suspected of colluding with Song and Hainan Airlines staff to obtain personal information of passengers, as well as fabricating and spreading information to mislead the public via overseas media outlets and online video platforms.