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Guo associate freed after conviction overturned

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-21 07:07

Qu Long, a former close business partner of Guo Wengui, one of China's most-wanted fugitives, was released from prison after his embezzlement conviction was overturned because of insufficient evidence, Chinese media reported on Wednesday.

An investigation concluded that the charges against Qu were fabricated by Guo and the government officials he had bribed, Beijing News reported.

Qu was released on Sept 12 after being sentenced in April 2012 to 15 years in prison. He said he was forced to confess after being tortured by Guo's accomplice in the legal system, the report said.

The two became business partners after Guo asked Qu to serve as acting chairman of Beijing Zhengquan, one of the companies Guo controlled in Beijing in 2006. Qu noticed that Guo loved to boast about his close relationship with high-ranking government officials.

In June 2008, Guo bought 70 percent of the shares of Huatai, a company based in Tianjin municipality. After draining the company's funds, he transferred the shares to Qu and let him run the company, the report said. Upon learning that the company had successfully refinanced and invested in a mining project that was likely to generate large profits, Guo demanded that Qu hand the company back to him. When Qu refused, Guo threatened him, the report said.

In 2010, Qu began talking to the authorities about Guo's ties with government and Party officials, including Ma Jian, the former vice-minister of state security. He also exposed their use of administrative power for financial gains to the media, the report said.

Ma managed to intercept letters from Qu containing incriminating information that were sent to anti-graft bodies, the report said. To keep Qu quiet, Guo asked Ma to use his power to get the police in Hebei province to detain and investigate Qu on made-up charges. Ma subsequently contacted Zhang Yue, former chief of the Hebei provincial commission for political and legal affairs, the newspaper reported.

Qu claimed he was forced to confess that he embezzled the shares of Huatai after he was dragged out of his car in Beijing and transferred to Chengde, Hebei, in March 2011. He was also tried in that city.

In 2015, Ma was placed under investigation for alleged corruption. An investigation of Zhang began in 2016.

Qu's family then saw hope for a reprieve and appealed to the Hebei High People's Court in April. The court overturned Qu's 2012 conviction, citing insufficient evidence. It also said the Hebei police had no authority to investigate the case.

Qu said he will take legal action against Guo, who is currently living in the United States. In April, at Beijing's request, Interpol issued a red notice seeking Guo's arrest on corruption-related charges.

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