The controversial exiled Chinese billionaire businessman Guo Wengui, an associate of former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon, was arrested in New York on Wednesday for orchestrating what federal prosecutors called a more than $1 billion fraud conspiracy that duped online followers with promises of “outsized” investment returns.
Prosecutors said they have seized more than $650 million in alleged fraud proceeds from 21 different bank accounts and a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roads automobile as part of the case in Manhattan federal court.
The Securities and Exchange Commission separately filed a related civil complaint against Guo, who is known by multiple different names, including Miles Guo and Miles Kwok. He has lived in the United States since 2015.
Also charged in the criminal and civil cases is Guo’s financier Kin Ming Je, also known as William Je.
The SEC accuses Guo and Je of involvement in unregisterd and fraudulent financial offerings. Guo is separately accused by the SEC of making misrepresentations in raising hundreds of millions of dollars from investors through a cryptocurrency assest known as “H-Coin.
In August 2020, federal authorities arrested Bannon on a mega-yacht belonging to Guo off the coast of Connecticut on charges related to siphoning off money for the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Former President Donald Trump months later pardoned Bannon in that case, shortly before Trump left the White House.
A grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges that Guo and Je, who remains at large, “conspired to defraud thousands of victims” in the scheme, which spanned from 2018 to the current month.
The alleged conspiracy involved the use of different entities and programs to obtain investments from the victims, who were deceived by misrepresentations and false statements, prosecutors said.
“Kwok lied to his victims and promised them outsized returns if they invested, or provided money to, GTV [Media] his so-called Himalaya Farm Alliance, G|CLUBS, and the Himalaya Exchange,” prosecutors said in a press release.
In a statement, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said, “As alleged, Ho Wan Kwok, known to many as ‘Miles Guo,’ led a complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of over $1 billion dollars.”
“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,” Williams said.
The defendants are charged with wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering in the criminal case. Je also is charged with obstruction of justice.
Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said the agency alleges Guo “was a serial fraudster, who raised more than $850 million by promising investors outsized returns on purported crypto, technology and luxury good investment opportunities.”
“In reality, Guo took advantage of the hype and allure surrounding crypto and other investments to victimize thousands and fund his and his family’s lavish lifestyle,” Grewal said.
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