Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui was arrested in New York on the morning of March 15 on charges that he oversaw a multi-billion dollar fraud conspiracy. US authorities indicted him on 11 criminal counts, including eight related to wire fraud and securities fraud; two on international money laundering; and one on unlawful monetary transactions. Ten of the counts carry up to 20 years in prison.
A few hours after Guo Wengui was arrested, his penthouse, currently for sale for $32.5 million in Manhattan, caught fire. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reportedly investigating the fire.
According to the indictment, three out of Guo’s four alleged projects related to GTV Media Group, the Chinese social media company founded in April 2020 by Guo and Steve Bannon, a former adviser to former US President Donald Trump. Bannon was arrested in 2020 on Guo’s yacht and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection to a crowdfunded effort to build a border wall between the US and Mexico. He then was pardoned by Trump but was again charged with the same crime and he refused to plead guilty.
Since 2018, thousands of victims have been tricked into investing in GTV, his so-called Himalaya Farm Alliance and Himalaya Exchange. Guo’s gang is said to have earned no less than $1 billion.
Instead of fulfilling his investment commitments, Guo directed the funds to invest in a hedge fund to benefit GTV, buy a mansion and luxury items. The Ministry of Justice on March 15 announced that it seized over $630 million of alleged fraud proceeds from 21 different bank accounts controlled by Guo and a Lamborghini supercar.
These legal troubles are not his first. In 2014, he fled his hometown China due to charges of bribery, fraud and criticism of the Chinese Communist Party. After being wanted by the Chinese government, Guo filed an application for political asylum in the US in 2017 and that application remains pending.