The Chinese billionaire and CCP critic has been accused of pocketing investment funds from his thousands of followers online.
Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire known for his opposition to Beijing and his ties to the administration of former US President Donald Trump, has been charged in the United States with defrauding investors worth $1 billion.
Guo, also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo, was arrested in New York on Wednesday over an alleged conspiracy that took hundreds of millions of dollars from his thousands of followers online, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
Guo is accused of pocketing money collected from investors who were promised exorbitant returns for backing some of his business ventures, including the media company GTV Media Group, an exclusive membership club known as G|CLUBS and a cryptocurrency called Himalaya Coin.
Guo is accused of using some of the money to make luxury purchases, including a 50,000-square-foot estate in New Jersey, a $37 million yacht and a $3.5 million Ferrari for his son.
Guo also allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of stolen funds to cover up the conspiracy’s illegal activities and continue the fraud.
Guo and his business partner Kin Ming Je, with whom Guo is accused of perpetrating the fraud, face 11 charges, including bank fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
You, who authorities say is currently at large, also faces an additional charge of obstruction of justice.
The most serious charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Guo’s lawyer declined to comment.
“My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to do everything we can to protect the community from the devastating effects of pernicious fraud schemes,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams.
Guo, a real estate magnate who was born in Shandong, is known for his sharp criticism of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) and his close association with prominent conservative figures, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
In 2020, Guo and Bannon launched the New Federal State of China lobbying group aimed at taking down the CCP. Bannon was on Guo’s yacht off the coast of New York when the former Trump adviser was arrested that year on unrelated fraud charges. Bannon, who is due to stand trial later this year, has pleaded not guilty in that case.
Guo left China in 2014 amid a high-profile crackdown on corruption led by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In 2017, Guo applied for asylum in the US after claiming he was being persecuted by the CCP for exposing corruption among the upper echelons of the Chinese leadership.
China confirmed that it had requested Interpol to issue a notice for Guo’s arrest in April of that year, after the businessman made a series of unsubstantiated allegations about Chinese officials bearing illegitimate children and holding property and bank accounts abroad.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported at the time that Guo was wanted on suspicion of bribing former spy chief Ma Jian, who had become entangled in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.