Exiled Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui Charged With Fraud
(Bloomberg) — Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui was charged in the US with a billion-dollar fraud over a series of securities offerings he allegedly used to enjoy luxuries including a $26.5 million mansion.
Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, was charged in a 38-page indictment unsealed Wednesday. He and his financial adviser, Kin Ming Je, were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. Guo was arrested Wednesday in Manhattan, while Je is at large, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors claim the pair conspired to defraud thousands of victims of more than $1 billion using “a series of complex fraudulent and fictitious businesses and investment opportunities.” The two allegedly employed a large money-laundering network involving more than 500 accounts held by at least 80 different entities and individuals.
A lawyer who represents Guo in other cases didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment on the charges. Guo will be presented before a judge in the afternoon, according to the US.
Guo and Je used more than $300 million of the fraudulent proceeds to benefit themselves and their families, according to the indictment. This included a $26.5 million estate in New Jersey for Guo and family, a $3.5 million Ferrari, a $37 million yacht, a $140,000 piano and a $36,000 mattress.
The indictment includes 11 counts against both men and one count of obstruction against Je, also known as William Je. It follows a lawsuit earlier in the day by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Guo was behind three unregistered securities offerings for GTV Media Group Inc. and another to buy a crypto security called H-Coin that he falsely said was backed by gold reserves, according to the SEC lawsuit.
Guo, a Chinese businessman living in exile in the US, has long been the subject of legal wrangling. Elliott Broidy, a fundraiser for Donald Trump, pleaded guilty in 2020 to illegally lobbying Trump’s White House to seek the extradition of Guo and squelch the investigation of 1MDB, the Malaysian fund at the center of a global bribery scandal.
Two other people, Hawaiian businesswoman Nickie Lum Davis and former Justice Department attorney George Higginbotham, also pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. Broidy was later pardoned by Trump.
Guo, an associate of Steve Bannon, has been a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party. Fearing retribution from the regime, he sought political asylum in the US in 2017.
Bannon was one of the chief strategists behind Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. He was on board Guo’s yacht in 2020 when he was arrested for fraud in connection with We Build the Wall, a nonprofit group that took in private donations to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. Trump later pardoned his ally on the federal charges.
Bannon still faces related charges in New York state court. He pleaded not guilty.
The criminal case is US v. Ho Wan Kwok, 23-cr-00118; the civil case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Ho Wan Kwok, 23-cv-02200; US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
–With assistance from David Voreacos.