BREAKING: Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire with business ties to Steve Bannon, has been arrested on federal charges out of New York. https://t.co/qLMThGPyEO
— ABC News (@ABC) March 15, 2023
The headline, of course, way undersells Guo Wengui’s versatility — the man contains multitudes. Per NBC, FBI investigates fire where Chinese billionaire, a Steve Bannon ally, was arrested:
Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire with business ties to Steve Bannon, faces federal fraud charges out of New York, as authorities investigate a fire that broke out at his apartment hours following his arrest on Wednesday.
Guo owned the 152-foot-long yacht Lady May on which Bannon was arrested in August 2020.
Guo and Bannon have been under investigation in connection with GTV Media Group, which the Securities and Exchange Commission previously accused of violating securities laws.
The FBI arrested Guo, also known as Ho Wan Kwok, Wednesday morning in New York on charges he orchestrated a $1 billion fraud.
“Kwok is charged with lining his pockets with the money he stole, including buying himself, and his close relatives, a 50,000 square foot mansion, a $3.5 million Ferrari and even two $36,000 mattresses, and financing a $37 million luxury yacht,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said…
Guo consented to detention, though the federal defender said his retained attorneys plan to propose a “robust bail package.” He is next scheduled to appear in court on April 4.
The SEC filed civil charges Wednesday that accused Guo and his financial adviser, Kin Ming Je, of “multiple offering frauds” that targeted retail investors through online and social media posts and videos.
“Since in or about April 2020, Guo has conducted fraudulent securities offerings that have collectively raised at least hundreds of millions of dollars from investors in the United States and around the world. Unbeknownst to those investors, Guo and his financial adviser, Je, misappropriated a large portion of the funds raised from certain of the Subject Offerings in order to enrich themselves and their family members,” the SEC complaint said…
Authorities are working to determine whether a two-alarm fire at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel is linked to the arrest of Guo, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News. FBI agents were still inside Guo’s apartment at the time the fire broke out at 12:02 p.m., sources told ABC News.
Guo was arrested at 6 a.m. at his $32 million apartment in the building. Agents were forced to evacuate when the fire broke out six hours later.
Firefighters were called just after noon for a fire on the 18th floor, according to the FDNY. There was significant damage to Guo’s 15-room penthouse, sources said…
Guo, a critic of the Chinese government, fled China in 2014 and is viewed as a fugitive by the PRC. He appeared on Forbes’ Billionaires List in 2015, worth an estimated $1.1 billion, but declared bankruptcy in February 2022.
Bannon helped Guo found GTV, but has not been charged…
[… yet, I hope.]
Reuters has more:
… Guo, who has used other names like Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Kwok, has been a business associate of Bannon, who was arrested in a fraud case in August 2020 while aboard Guo’s yacht, the Lady May.
Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of his presidency. Bannon is not accused of wrongdoing in Guo’s criminal case.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it seized and is seeking the forfeiture of $634 million of Guo’s alleged fraud proceeds from 21 bank accounts, including several at the now-closed Silvergate Bank.
It said it also seized assets purchased with proceeds from Guo’s alleged fraud, including a Lamborghini Aventador, and wants Guo to forfeit the yacht.
The criminal charges carry several decades of potential prison time. Guo also faces related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges…
Court papers filed on Wednesday described a web of offerings that according to prosecutors targeted investors aligned with Guo’s policy objectives in China, and inclined to believe the self-proclaimed billionaire when it came to investing.
“We allege that Guo was a serial fraudster,” SEC enforcement chief Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.
Prosecutors said that in one offering, Guo raised $262 million through a cryptocurrency “ecosystem” called the Himalaya Exchange, which promised a so-called H Coin, also known as Himalaya Coin or HCN, with an estimated $27 billion valuation.
The indictment quoted from an October 2021 video in which Guo allegedly said 20% of H Coin’s value was backed by gold, and that he would fully reimburse investors who lost money…
This is actually quite a good summary, if you can spare the time (or want to retweet it):
Why is he rapping about cryptocurrency? Why is he signing a blood oath on a yacht in front of the State of Liberty with Steve Bannon? Why is he kissing Steve Bannon? @dfriedman33 digs in:pic.twitter.com/J0c5a31uRx
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) March 15, 2023
Please forgive my hubris but I have been screaming about Guo Wengui being a lynchpin for several years now. https://t.co/GTjxgWQH6y
— The Sparrow Project (@sparrowmedia) March 15, 2023
… For six years, Mr. Guo has been seen as a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party, endearing himself to some conservatives in the United States and many members of the Chinese diaspora. The U.S. attorney’s office issued a news release announcing his arrest in both English and Chinese.
In 2017, Mr. Guo applied for asylum on grounds that his attacks on top officials had made him “a political opponent of the Chinese regime,” one of his lawyers said at the time.
At the same time, Mr. Guo was trying to ingratiate himself with the Trump administration. In early 2017, Mr. Guo posted pictures of himself at Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, where Mr. Guo was then a member. Several months later, he told his many followers on social media that he had booked meetings at the Trump International Hotel in Washington…
Gettr—which at one point was flooded with "Sonic the Hedgehog furry porn"— has long been funded by Wengui and led by Jason Miller until recently, when he re-joined the Trump campaign.
— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) March 15, 2023
This one? pic.twitter.com/tSgwKzfbRQ
— Give_me_coffee☮️🇺🇸 (@vaxxedandproud) March 15, 2023
Guo is tied to a cult-like network of companies like "Voice of Guo Media" and "GTV" (Guo TV) hat the SEC ordered to pay $539 million back to investors in 2021 in a related case https://t.co/pwNBkFRE4C
— tom mckay (@thetomzone) March 15, 2023
Filipkowski is being sarcastic; the MAGAts he links are not:
I just learned Guo Wengui was arrested for embezzling $1B because the Deep State knew he was financing Steve Bannon’s show, and Bannon is Trump’s most valuable advisor, so this arrest was really all about stopping Trump. pic.twitter.com/znXVRs94qR
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) March 15, 2023