The Chinese billionaire and CCP critic has been accused of pocketing investment funds from his thousands of online followers.
Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire known for his opposition to Beijing and ties to the administration of former US President Donald Trump, has been charged in the United States with defrauding investors of $1bn.
Guo, also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo, was arrested in New York on Wednesday for an alleged conspiracy involving the misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars obtained from his thousands of online followers, said of the US Department of Justice in a statement.
Guo is accused of pocketing money raised from investors who were promised huge returns for backing some of his business ventures, including 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 funds to support a lavish lifestyle, including a 50,000-square-foot property in New Jersey, a $37m yacht and a $3.5m Ferrari for his son.
Guo also allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of stolen funds to hide the conspiracy’s illegal activities and perpetuate the fraud.
Guo and his business partner Kin Ming Je, with whom Guo is accused of fraud, face 11 charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.
Je, who authorities say is currently at large, also faces an additional count of obstruction of justice.
The most serious charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 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 consequences of these harmful fraud schemes,” said the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams.
Guo, a Shandong-born real estate tycoon, is known for his fierce criticism of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) and his close ties to prominent conservative figures, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
In 2020, Guo and Bannon launched the New Federal State of China lobby group aimed at overthrowing 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 scheduled to stand trial later this year, has pleaded not guilty to that charge.
Guo left China in 2014 amid a high-profile corruption crackdown led by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In 2017, Guo sought asylum in the US after saying he was being persecuted by the CCP for exposing corruption in the upper echelons of China’s leadership.
China asked Interpol to issue a notice for Guo’s arrest after the businessman made a series of unproven claims about Chinese officials taking children abroad as well as owning -own 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 Ma Jian, who was caught in Xi’s anti-corruption drive.