BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Xinhua news agency accused fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui of using "fabricated and distorted information to mislead the public", the latest salvo in a campaign to discredit the billionaire who has made accusations of Communist Party corruption.
Central to Guo's claims over recent months has been that a man named Yao Qing used his status as a nephew of a senior Communist Party official to amass a business empire worth tens of billions of dollars.
In an online video stream last month, Guo produced a corporate tree diagram which he said showed companies linked to Yao, including GI Technologies (Beijing) Co.
Xinhua interviewed Yao, who is listed in corporate records as general manager of GI Technologies. Yao rejected any suggestion he was anything other than an ordinary entrepreneur.
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"In Guo's logic, companies that have business with me actually belong to me together with all their assets. Thus, my assets will be unlimited. Such logic is ridiculous," Yao told Xinhua in a report published on Wednesday, adding that Guo's "fabricated claims" had brought "negative impact" to him, his family and his company.
State media reported earlier this month that the "relationship tree" diagram purportedly showing companies controlled by Yao was fabricated by Chen Xiangjun, a 43-year-old unemployed man from Guangdong province who offered Guo "fake information" in exchange for 50,000 yuan ($7,435).
When reached by telephone, a representative for GI Technologies said Yao was not planning to accept any further interviews and that Xinhua's account was accurate.
Guo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
In an online video stream shortly after Xinhua's report was published, Guo said "he never said that this Yao Qing is the one in the (senior official's) family".
Guo, who now lives in New York having left China in 2014, has emerged in recent months as a political threat to the Chinese government in a sensitive year, unleashing a deluge of corruption allegations against high-level Communist Party officials through Twitter posts and video blogs. The businessman has made it clear that he wants to disrupt a key five-yearly congress to be held this autumn.
Despite providing scant evidence to back up his claims, Guo's standing as a former billionaire insider with ties to senior intelligence officials has meant his online video streams and prolific tweeting continue to command wide attention among Beijing's political circles, as well as the ire of the central government.
Interpol issued a global "red notice" for Guo's arrest in April, at Beijing's request.
A growing number of high-profile individuals and companies, including housing vice-minister Huang Yan, conglomerate HNA Group and real estate giant SOHO China are also pursuing legal action against Guo for defamation.
($1 = 6.7 yuan)
(Reporting by Philip Wen and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)