US arrests Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui on charges of alleged fraud conspiracy to swindle investors out of more than $1 billion

Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui

() — Chinese billionaire and self-proclaimed dissident Guo Wengui was arrested Wednesday and charged with defrauding thousands of supporters of more than $1 billion through complex investment schemes, US prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Guo is a staunch critic of the Chinese government in exile in Manhattan, is close to Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon and was arrested in New York on Wednesday morning. He is accused of defrauding or misappropriating money from investors using different schemes, including his media company GTV Media Group, a farm loan program through Himalaya Farm Alliance, and a cryptocurrency called Himalaya Coin.

Guo is also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo.

Prosecutors in the case said that instead of using the money as promised to potential investors, Guo directed the funds to invest in a hedge fund to benefit GTV and a relative, to cover maintenance payments for his $37 million, 44-meter-long luxury yacht, a New Jersey Mansion and a custom-built Bugatti sports car valued at $4.4 million.

A federal judge denied bail after Guo consented to the detention.

Fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui gives a press conference on November 20, 2018. (Credit: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, a fire broke out in Guo’s apartment when the FBI was on the scene executing a search warrant on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. A spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, Nicholas Biase, said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

has reached out to Guo’s lawyer for comment.

Guo co-founded two nonprofit organizations, the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society, which prosecutors allege he used to attract supporters who believed in many of his ideas.

Those nonprofits were linked to a group promoting the theory that the new coronavirus was likely engineered in a Chinese lab. The rule of law organizations were co-founded by Guo and Bannon.

Bannon has not been charged in this case.

Steve Bannon was arrested in 2020 on Guo’s yacht on unrelated fraud charges stemming from a border wall fundraising effort. Bannon was pardoned by Trump but indicted on similar state charges. Bannon has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said they have seized $634 million from 21 bank accounts and a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster.

In addition to criminal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, international money laundering and obstruction of justice, Guo was also sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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