Hong Kong targets fugitive tycoon accused of laundering billions

Billionaire Guo Wengui fled to the United States in 2014 where he is now seeking asylum after accusing officials in his native China of corruption

Hong Kong police have frozen the bank accounts of runaway Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui as part of a HK$32.9 billion ($4.2 billion) money laundering investigation that also involves his son and daughter, a court writ revealed.

Billionaire Guo Wengui fled to the United States in 2014 where he is now seeking asylum after accusing officials in his native China of corruption.

He has since made explosive corruption accusations against China's elite by posting a series of graft allegations on social media, and called for a "change of the regime" in Beijing.

Details of the Hong Kong police probe emerged from court documents submitted as part of a request for a judicial review against the freezing of various assets linked to Guo.

The application was filed by Anton Development Limited -- a company held by Guo's daughter Guo Mei -- at the city's High Court on Tuesday and was the first time the investigation against the tycoon was revealed in Hong Kong.

The documents show that Guo has been accused, along with his daughter Guo Mei, his son Guo Qian and two others, of using their personal bank accounts and the bank accounts of Anton and Hong Kong International Funds Investments Limited -- also owned by his daughter -- to launder HK$32.9 billion, which was "known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence".

The accounts were frozen in July 2017, according to the writ, and Anton has since requested police to release the accounts.

The documents say police have refused to do so "due to the alleged police investigation of suspected money laundering offence".

The writ showed the frozen accounts totalled at least HK1.56 billion.

Anton said in the writ that it had explained to police that HK$730 million in the frozen accounts were investment funds from a sovereign fund in Abu Dhabi.

Hong Kong police were not immediately able to comment when contacted by AFP.

Guo's property has been seized and two brothers imprisoned since he fled from China four years ago.

According to Chinese media reports, he is also accused of paying 60 million yuan ($8.8 million) to disgraced former state security vice-minister Ma Jian.

He is the target of an Interpol "red notice," a non-binding arrest warrant issued by the international policing agency.

China's anti-corruption drive was launched after Xi Jinping took power in 2012 and has brought down government officials and corporate executives.