Chinese film star Fan Bingbing has sued fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui after he sensationally claimed she slept with the country’s anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan.
Wengui, an exiled Manhattan-based billionaire, has made a series of extraordinary allegations of corruption and sleaze at the top ranks of the ruling Communist party.
His accusations have been a thorn in the side of the Communist Party as it prepares for its 19th Congress this autumn where President Xi Jinping seeks re-election to another five-year term.
The lawsuit by the movie star comes amid a sustained and coordinated Chinese government campaign to discredit Wengui, since it requested an Interpol red notice to be issued in April and declared him a criminal suspect.
Bingbing, one of the world’s best paid actresses, has hired American lawyers to pursue a defamation suit in the wake of the allegations.
Wengui claimed Bingbing and several other female celebrities had sex with 69-year-old Qishan, China’s anti-corruption chief and one of the most feared men in the country.
Wengui, a real estate tycoon who lives in a luxury Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park, even claimed he had watched parts of a sex tape of Fan and the official.
Following that Bingbing, best known to international viewers for her performance in X-Men: Days of Future Past, issued a furious response.
She said the billionaire’s accusation was a ‘fabrication’ and ‘malicious slander’ that had ‘severely damaged’ her reputation.
The actress, who is in a relationship with fellow film star Li Chen, is also an ambassador for Louis Vuitton and Chopard.
She demanded that Wengui and ‘relevant platforms’ stop spreading the accusations and hired Lavely & Singer, a Los Angeles law firm, to prepare a lawsuit.
There is a long-standing tradition in China of trying to smear party bosses by accusing them of having affairs with celebrity actresses.
Elsewhere Huang Yan, vice-minister of housing and urban rural development, has lodged a £7.5million lawsuit against Wengui.
He claimed she had provided sexual favours in a video published on YouTube in May.
She said his ‘false and outrageous’ claims had caused her ‘severe emotional distress’ and ‘mental anguish’.
It is very rare for a senior serving Chinese government official to pursue legal action against an individual overseas.
Yan’s complaint says Wengui had falsely alleged that she helped real estate developers secure project approvals by providing sexual favours to Beijing government officials, and in turn received property assets from the developers who benefited.
The complaint said: ‘Guo has falsely and repeatedly claimed that Plaintiff Huang has engaged in various nefarious actions, including, but not limited to: sex scandals and corruption.’
It added that Guo’s statements had damaged Huang’s reputation among a large number of people, and caused many to ‘doubt her capabilities as a professional and a government official’.
Yan’s defamation suit was filed by lawyer Kevin Tung, who is also representing a group of nine Chinese creditors who are suing Guo for $50 million in owed funds.
By THOMAS BURROWS