HK businessman sues Chinese company on human rights claims

Hong Kong businessman is suing a Chinese state-owned oil company in a California court, arguing company officials conspired with authorities to have him detained for five years on false charges, in an unusual case that will test US jurisdiction in overseas human rights claims.

Tiangang Sun, the former head of GeoMaxima Energy Holdings Ltd who now lives in Los Angeles, filed the suit in US District Court for Western California against China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, known as Sinopec, one of the largest oil companies in the world.

Sun said in the complaint he first ran afoul of Sinopec when a pipeline project his company built in Western China was taken over and he tried to sue Sinopec for breach of contract. He then claimed the company plotted with Chinese authorities to have him arrested in 2005 to scuttle the lawsuit. After five years he was released without explanation and later fled to the US, the complaint said.

Sun's lawyers are bringing the claims under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law that was revived in the 1980s by attorneys pursuing international human rights cases and also under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, most commonly associated with prosecutions against the Mafia.

Sun first filed a lawsuit in Hong Kong but the courts there found the case should be heard in Beijing. He claims his arrest was orchestrated after he tried to bring a suit in the mainland.

- Reuters News