Chinese businessman who fell to death in France may have known of influence bids

by WorldTribune Staff, November 4, 2018

A prominent Chinese dissident, Guo Wengui, said he doubts the official explanation from the French government of the events surrounding the death of the co-chairman of Chinese conglomerate HNA, who he said was in the company of security guards who were members of China’s military.

Wang Jian. / HNA via AP

Earlier this year, HNA dropped a bid to purchase Skybridge Capital, founded by Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served President Trump as White House communications director. The deal was seen at the time as a possible bid by China to gain influence with the Trump administration.

Comments by Guo to security correspondent Bill Gertz presents the death as one of a series of likely assassinations that could be characterized as more sophisticated but no less deadly than that of Jamal Khashoggi in early October at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

Guo was close to former Chinese Ministry of State Security Vice Chairman Ma Jian and has released a stream of reports exposing Chinese Communist Party corruption and intelligence activities.

Wang is not the only prominent Chinese with ties to intelligence and influence operations who have recently died or vanished, according to the report by Gertz for the Washington Free Beacon.

Meng Hongwei, then president of the international police organization Interpol, disappeared during a visit to China earlier this month. Earlier he had acted on Beijing’s request to seek the arrest of Guo.

On Oct. 20, Zheng Xiaosong, a Chinese government official responsible for Macao, died like Wang in a fall.

French authorities said Wang Jian died on July 3 after falling some 50 feet off a rock wall during a visit to a 12th Century church in the village of Bonnieux in southeastern France.

The Oct. 30 report noted that the official account from French authorities said Wang had breakfast at the luxury Hotel Capelongue in Bonnieux and departed around 10:30 a.m. by van for the church that was located a short distance from the hotel. Within 15 minutes, he was at the foot of a rock wall dying.

Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman turned dissident billionaire expatriate, said that “The timeline between when Wang Jian left the hotel and jumped or fell down does not match what Chinese propaganda reported, so that is suspicious.”

Initial reports from Chinese state-controlled media reported that Wang died of a heart attack.

Related: VOA set to fire three employees for helping billionaire Chinese dissident expose CCP secrets, Nov. 15, 2017

Guo also told the Washington Free Beacon he believes Wang’s two government-supplied security guards were members of the Chinese military. Guo said he predicted a year ago there would be a murder or assassination within HNA.

Wang was a key leader of the HNA Group that is worth an estimated $230 billion and owns stakes in Deutsche Bank, Hilton Hotels, and Swissport.

Wang’s body, according to Guo, was sent to Seattle and buried, and his wife and son who live there as U.S. residents have lost billions in Wang’s HNA shares that were taken back by the company.

“In one to three months, all property [owned by Wang] was moved back to HNA into accounts related to HNA,” Guo said.

According to the Free Beacon’s report, two former New York City police detectives uncovered facts about Wang’s case that appeared to have been left out of French authorities’ investigation and official report on the incident.

“The official story is that he went to go take a selfie,” said one the detectives. “We were at the wall. I could tell you right now, I could push that wall over. Nobody in their right mind would ever climb over that.”

The detectives said their investigation disclosed that surveillance videotape of the village was altered. A portion of video taken during the time that Wang arrived at the Bonnieux church appears to have been deleted by police who obtained the video from the village’s sole camera at the location in a tobacco shop.

The timeline of the incident also raised the detectives’ suspicions.

“The timeline only adds to the fact this was not an accident,” a second detective said. “Within 15 minutes of them leaving the hotel is approximately the time he’s lying at the bottom of the wall dying.”

French authorities imposed a strict gag order on releasing any information about the incident.

Both police and firefighters that were involved in the case told the detectives they were ordered not to comment on the circumstances surrounding Wang’s death.


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