Loaded Chinese-Australian businessman Chau Chak Wing has taken Fairfax Media and one of its former journalists to court over an article that he claims has done “great damage” to him.
The article in question is one that was written by John Garnaut and published on The Sydney Morning Herald’s website in 2015, entitled: “Are Chau Chak Wing’s circles of influence in Australia-China ties built on hot air?”
Chau argued in the Federal Court yesterday that the article falsely suspects him of conspiring to bribe former UN General Assembly president John Ashe, and has caused a lot of harm to his personal and professional reputation.
“This report has done great damage to me,” he said.
“My feeling is the many years past, in China and in Australia, I never did anything illegal, anything against the law.”
Chau said he “may even be subject to heart attack” if the allegations made in the Fairfax article continued.
The wealthy property developer also claimed the article falsely suggests his actions were so bad that it warrants an extradition, and he relied on illicitly paying local government officials.
Chau’s barrister, Bruce McClintock SC, alleged Garnaut penned the article with “extraordinary haste” after receiving an email from News Corp rival Michael Sainsbury which noted that The Daily Telegraph had beaten him to naming Chau in connection with the bribery.
McClintock also accused Garnaut of showing a “puerile attitude of resentment and gloating” towards Chau, having replied to Sainsbury’s email that it was “the most rewarding story the motherland has ever given us”.
However, James Hmelnitski SC, who is the barrister for both Fairfax and Garnaut, described the article as “good journalism” and that it was “reasonable in the circumstances”.
The hearing continues.