The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed on Wednesday that Interpol had issued a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Guo Wengui, a controversial tycoon who claimed to have evidence of corruption at the top of the Communist Party.
Ministry spokesman Lu Kang confirmed the red notice was issued, but gave no details of Guo’s alleged crimes.
“What we understand is that Interpol has already issued a red notice for criminal suspect Guo Wengui,” Lu said.
The South China Morning Post reported earlier on Wednesday that Interpol issued the red notice at China’s request.
Sources briefed on the notice said Guo, who has close ties to disgraced former state security vice-minister Ma Jian, was suspected of giving Ma 60 million yuan (US$8.72 million) in bribes. Ma is under investigation for corruption.
An Interpol red notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition, according to the Interpol website. It is not an international arrest warrant.
The Ministry of Public Security in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment. Interpol said it would not comment on specific cases or individuals.
Guo, a real estate tycoon who is also known as Miles Kwok, said on his Twitter account that he had been in the United States and London. China does not have an extradition treaty with either the US or Britain.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Guo said the red notice was a “suicidal act” indicating that corrupt officials were fearful of their wrongdoings being exposed. He also said the allegations against him were “pure fabrication”.
“This will make Wengui more determined to fight these bad guys,” he wrote.
Guo said last week that he would have a three-hour interview with Voice of America on Wednesday morning, US Eastern Standard Time.
Guo has made a series of claims about alleged corruption among senior party officials.
In February, he alleged that Fu Zhenghua, China’s executive deputy minister of public security, abused his power to take action against Guo.
Two months later, the Ministry of Public Security’s social media account released a video accusing Guo of blackmailing officials.
Although the acts of bribery and taking bribes carry the same penalties under Chinese law, the authorities have so far been focused more on punishing those who accept bribes.
Among the 100 fugitives subject to red notices from Interpol’s National Central Bureau for China in 2015, only one was wanted on suspicion of paying bribes.
All the others are suspected of embezzlement, fraud or receiving bribes.