Guo Meimei, the woman who embarrassed the Red Cross Society of China by claiming to be one of its managers and flaunted her lavish lifestyle online, said all her luxury possessions were gifts from an entrepreneur and her mother who had no links with the charity group.
Guo Meimei.[File photo]
The 20-year-old unemployed woman who posted photos of her collection of Hermes bags and her Maserati car on her microblog, said, during "Larry Lang Live" - a Chinese Business News television program yesterday, that she used to be a thrifty girl who always remembered to turn off lights to save electricity.
She said only two of the Hermes bags she showed were authentic - one was a gift from her mother on her 18th birthday and the other was from Wang Jun, a real estate developer from Shenzhen City, south China's Guangdong Province.
Guo said Wang Jun once told her that he was planning to invest in a company which had some ties with the Red Cross Society of China and joked that he could get her a manager's position there. Guo said she then changed her identity on her microblog from "actress-singer" to "General Manager of Red Cross Commerce" to show off to her friends, though she "actually had no idea what the company and title was."
She said she never expected this would ignite anger in the online community with many posters claiming she must have used donations intended for the needy to fund her lifestyle and that she had been given the position through her relationship with a deputy head of the charity organization, whose name was also Wang Jun.
Guo said Wang, the real estate developer, later withdrew his investment totaling 10 million yuan (US$1.55 million) from the China Red Cross Bo'an Asset Management Co after the scandal broke in June.
"I felt deeply sorry. I didn't mean to (cause so much trouble)," said Guo, adding that she had never spent 1 yuan from non-profitable Red Cross to finance her lifestyle.
Guo's mother, Guo Dengfeng, who also appeared in the interview, said she raised her daughter alone after her divorce. But they had an affluent life due to successful stock market investments.
Before her daughter was born, Guo Dengfeng was already a millionaire and owned two properties in Shenzhen City through fortunes made from buying stock.
Guo Dengfeng said she attempted to make up for the mental losses felt by her daughter due to the divorce by buying her luxury goods.
The daughter said she was an "honest girl at heart" who had become entranced with luxury living after studying at the Beijing Film Academy, where she made friends with rich people.
She said she hoped to use the interview to clarify matters and put an end to talk about the scandal.
When host Larry Lang suggested she had somehow boosted the popularity of the charity body, Guo looked puzzled and didn't respond.
Guo said she intended to seek a career in the entertainment industry and had posted her assistant's mobile phone number on her microblog.