Spy vs. Spy Open Thread: Miles Kwok, Once Again

First time I ran across Guo Wengui’s saga, I compared it to “a Trollope novel, as written by John le Carre”. The Trickster God is a lazy scripter in general, but the crossovers by every A-list GOP grifter seems particularly rich here:

Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who also goes by Miles Kwok, fled to the United States four years ago after learning an associate had been arrested on corruption charges. He is now one of China’s most-wanted, accused of myriad crimes by the Chinese government, including paying bribes and sexual assault. He maintains his innocence, saying the charges are politically motivated.

Guo, who made his money in real estate, has long promoted himself as a dissident being hunted by the Chinese government for his opposition to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. He is currently seeking political asylum in the United States, where he reportedly avoided deportation by the Trump administration after the president learned Guo was a member of Mar-a-Lago.

Now, filings in a civil case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, suggest Guo may not be the dissident he claims. “Instead, Guo Wengui was, and is, a dissident-hunter, propagandist, and agent in the service of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party,” according to federal court papers filed on Friday.

The Chinese spy allegations against Guo surfaced last week in a contract dispute — rife with international and political intrigue — between a Hong Kong-based company, Eastern Profit Corporation Limited, and an Arlington, Va., research firm, Strategic Vision US, LLC.

Guo denied the allegations through his attorney, saying the claim “utterly lacks credibility.”

“This lawsuit is about a contract between Eastern Profit and Strategic. Strategic is now abusing the litigation privilege to slander Mr. Guo,” wrote Guo’s attorney, Daniel Podhaskie, in a response to the Miami Herald. He claimed the slander was retaliation after Strategic’s counterclaim was dismissed. Podhaskie pointed to Guo’s frozen assets in China as proof that he is not working with the Communist Party…

Strategic Vision, headed by CEO French Wallop, the widow of the late Wyoming GOP Sen. Malcolm Wallop, was fired by Eastern Profit in February 2018 after the research firm provided information that was mostly publicly available on the probe’s targets, the suit says. Eastern Profit demanded the return of its $1 million deposit for the research work, accusing Strategic Vision of breaching their contract.

Strategic filed a counterclaim not only against Eastern Profit but also against Guo, alleging he is actually a Chinese government spy whose “origin story is untrue.”
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C.R.E.A.M. Open Thread: The McConnell-Chao Marriage Is *Mutually* Profitable

Guess it’s nice for the GOP senators who’ve handed their balls over to Mitch to know that, should his Russian funding ever dry up, he won’t be reduced to peddling his memoirs to support his lifestyle:

The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.

Chao’s aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell’s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell — including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications…

The circumstances surrounding the Owensboro grant and another, more lucrative grant to Boone County, highlight the ethical conflicts in having a powerful Cabinet secretary married to the Senate’s leader and in a position to help him politically. McConnell has long touted his ability to bring federal resources to his state, which his wife is now in a position to assist.

Chao’s designation of Inman as a special intermediary for Kentucky — a privilege other states did not enjoy — gave a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which could in turn benefit his political interests. In such situations, ethicists say, each member of a couple benefits personally from the success of the other…

(Much more at the link. As with so many similar one-man pork projects, the money seems to have drained away on ‘showpiece’ architectural projects that benefited a small cadre of connected businessmen without providing much assistance to the voters who really needed some help.)

The power couple isn’t particulary covert about their money-spinning prowess. Bess Levin, at Vanity Fair:

Last week, the New York Times reported that the secretary tried to bring family members to government meetings with Chinese officials, despite said family members having major financial entanglements in China. Last month, the Wall Street Journal found that she’d made a $40,000 profit on her stake in Vulcan, the nation’s largest construction materials supplier, despite having promised—over a year ago!—to divest from the company, on whose board she sat…

Cole linked to the NYTimes article when it appeared, but seriously: Can you imagine the outrage if a Democratic Senator’s wife did anything like this?

Ms. Chao is the top Trump official overseeing the American shipping industry, which is in steep decline and overshadowed by its Chinese competitors.

Her efforts on behalf of the family business — appearing at promotional events, joining her father in interviews with Chinese-language media — have come as Foremost has interacted with the Chinese state to a remarkable degree for an American company.

Foremost has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government, whose policies have been labeled by the Trump administration as threats to American security. The company’s primary business — delivering China’s iron ore and coal — is intertwined with industries caught up in a trade war with the United States. That dispute stems in part from the White House’s complaints that China is flooding the world with subsidized steel, undermining American producers.
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