Beijing: Flamboyant Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, on the run from Interpol, is a friend of former British prime minister Tony Blair, it has been revealed.
Mr Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, paid for Mr Blair to fly with him on a private jet to meet Abu Dhabi’s royal family, successfully raising billions of dollars to fund Mr Guo’s Chinese deals in 2013, it has been claimed.
Respected Chinese business magazine Caixin said Mr Blair and Mr Guo had been in contact up until last month’s issuance of the Interpol red notice. They most recently met this year, the story alleged.
Mr Blair’s office confirmed to Caixin he had been a friend of Mr Guo for 10 years and that Mr Guo had donated to Mr Blair’s charities.
In 2009, Mr Guo bought 5000 copies of Cherie Blair’s autobiography, Speaking for Myself.
Mr Blair had never received fees from Mr Guo, the office reportedly said.
Mr Guo fled China in 2014, after a business deal turned sour, and it was claimed he had used a sex tape to topple Beijing’s former deputy mayor.
But this year he burst back into the public limelight on social media, documenting his lavish lifestyle of private jets, cars and luxury hotels, including Mark’s Club in Mayfair, on Twitter and Facebook.
He made international headlines by giving sensational interviews online in which he hurled accusations at senior figures in the Chinese Communist Party.
It was revealed that Mr Guo was a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort just weeks before the club was the venue for Mr Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The last broadcast was mired in controversy after Voice of America cut short the advertised three-hour interview. This coincided with objections by the Chinese government.
Mr Guo is wanted by the Chinese government for allegedly paying a 60 million yuan ($11.5 million) bribe to former Chinese state security vice-minister Ma Jian.
China’s fallen spy chief Ma confessed to his dealings with Mr Guo in a video that was mysteriously circulated on the internet within hours of the Interpol red notice being issued.
Caixin also reported that Macquarie Group’s China chairman, Je Kin Ming (William Je), was “an old acquaintance of Guo” and assisted his investment in a large Chinese securities house, Haitong.
Mr Je left Macquarie in March 2015 to join Mr Guo’s Hong Kong-based asset management firm.
Mr Blair’s office told Fairfax Media: “Mr Blair has known Mr Kwok as a friend for 10 years. Mr Kwok has in the past been a donor to Mr Blair’s charitable work.
“He has never had a commercial contract with Mr Kwok nor received fees for such work from him, neither has his company.”
Macquarie declined to comment.
Caixin is suing Mr Guo for defamation.
By Kirsty Needham
Sydney Morning Herald