An exiled Chinese billionaire with links to Steve Bannon has been arrested by the FBI in New York over allegations he masterminded a $1 billion fraud then splashed the cash on a yacht, mansion and other outrageous luxuries.
Guo Wengui was detained by agents on Wednesday morning over an elaborate scam to defraud his legion of online followers through sham investments. He’s expected to appear in court today on 12 charges.
The business magnate, who also uses aliases including Ho Wan Kwok, spent the money on a 50,000-square-foot mansion in New Jersey, a Lamborghini supercar and luxury yacht worth approximately $37 million.
He also splurged on Chinese and Persian rugs worth approximately $978,000, a $62,000 television, and a $53,000 fireplace log cradle holder.
Prosecutors revealed information about the elaborate fraud on Wednesday along with extraordinary details about the luxuries snapped up by Guo. Guo is charged alongside his financial advisor William Je, a Hong Kong and United Kingdom dual citizen who served as the fraud’s ‘financial architect and key money launderer’.
Guo Wengui is pictured, left, with Steve Bannon, right. In 2018, Guo linked up with Bannon for a gimmick attempt to overthrow China’s communist government
Prosecutors have seized Guo’s $37 million “Lady May” yacht, where former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was arrested aboard on unrelated charges in 2020
Prosecutors released pictures of a 50,000-square-foot mansion in New Jersey that Guo allegedly bought using cash from the fraud
About $634 million held in 21 different bank accounts was also seized by investigators, the US attorney’s office said.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: ‘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.’
Guo is closely-linked to Bannon, the right wing firebrand who helped Donald Trump secure victory in the 2016 presidential election then served as chief strategist in the White House.
Bannon was arrested on Guo’s 152ft yacht Lady May in August 2020 on fraud charges linked to the We Build the Wall fundraising campaign for a wall between the US and Mexico.
Prosecutors in New York say Guo made false claims to his hundreds of thousands of online followers about ‘investment and money-making opportunities’. He founded two nonprofit organizations, the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society, and used them as a front for his scam, it is alleged.
Guo, Je and unnamed accomplices netted hundreds of millions of dollars by encouraging his followers to make sham investments.
Prosecutors obtained warrants in September last year to begin seizing the ill-gotten gains.
The SEC has also filed charges against Guo and Je today that allege ‘multiple offering frauds’ targeting retail investors online and through social media.
‘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,’ the SEC case said.
‘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.’
A custom-built Bugatti Veyron supercar worth $4.4 million that’s been seized by authorities who say Guo orchestrated a $1bn fraud
Guo earned billions through business ventures in China before he fled to the US in 2014 to flee arrest on allegations of bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape
Steve Bannon and Guo are friends and the pair once mounted a stunt which saw a plane carrying an anti-CCP banner flown over the Statue of Liberty.
Guo earned billions through business ventures in China before he fled to the US in 2014 to flee arrest on allegations of bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape.
He filed for bankruptcy in the US in February last year and claimed his assets had dwindled to less than $100,000.
In 2018, Guo linked up with Bannon for a gimmick attempt to overthrow China’s communist government. They mounted a stunt which saw a plane carrying an anti-CCP banner flown over the Statue of Liberty.
Guo also shed his own blood on a document vowing to overthrow Chinese President Xi Jinping’s party.