Controversial exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui’s lawyers seek bail for US$1 billion fraud accused


1st April 2023 – (New York) Controversial Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who has connections to former White House adviser Steve Bannon, has been arrested in New York on charges related to a $1bn fraud scheme. Wengui allegedly duped online investors into making investments by offering them outsized returns that he could not deliver. The funds that he raised through his company, GTV Media, were reportedly used to purchase numerous extravagant items including a New Jersey mansion, a $37m yacht, a Ferrari, a $140,000 piano, and two mattresses costing $36,000 each. Prosecutors seized more than $650 million in alleged fraud proceeds from 21 different bank accounts and assets. Bannon was arrested on federal charges aboard Guo’s 150-foot (45-meter) yacht. However, just before leaving office, former President Donald Trump granted Bannon a pardon, resulting in the case against him being dropped.

Guo’s lawyers wrote that since immigrating to the United States in 2015, Guo had only traveled abroad three times and not once since 2017. They said Chinese authorities would cause him to “face intolerable risks to his life” were he to leave the United States. They also wrote that he was not a danger to others, especially with strict bail conditions.

Guo has been detained since his arrest, but his lawyers indicated that they would later seek bail.

Prosecutors said the charges stemmed from a complex scheme in which Guo and others lied to hundreds of thousands of online followers before misappropriating hundreds of millions of dollars.

Guo, 54, was once believed to be among the richest people in China. He left in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that ensnared people close to Guo, including a top intelligence official. Chinese authorities have accused Guo of rape, kidnapping, bribery, and other offences. Guo has long argued that the allegations against him in China were false, saying they were intended to punish him for publicly outing corruption there and criticising leading figures in the Communist Party. Guo was once considered an ally of Steve Bannon, a former advisor to President Donald Trump. It was on Guo’s 150-foot yacht that Bannon was once arrested on federal charges. Just before he left office, then-President Trump made the case against Bannon dissolve with a pardon.

A spokesperson for prosecutors declined to comment on the bail request by Guo’s lawyers. At the time of Guo’s arrest, prosecutors said he was a serious flight risk and a danger to the public, and the charges against him were the result of a complex scheme that defrauded thousands of people. They also claimed that his crimes were “ongoing and continually evolving.”

Guo’s lawyers proposed a $25 million bail package, including $5 million in cash or property, location monitoring, and home detention at a Connecticut residence where his wife resides. They also proposed that Guo would be subjected to 24-hour surveillance by a security company with at least one guard on the premises at all times.

Prosecutors filed a detention letter, stating that Guo was a serious flight risk and a danger to the public because his crimes had robbed thousands of individuals of their money and were “ongoing and continually evolving.” They argued that he was likely to flee because of his wealth, strong proof of guilt, and ties abroad.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil complaint against Guo and William Je, who is 56 years old and a resident of the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Je is currently at large. The SEC has accused Guo and Je of being involved in fraudulent financial offerings that were unregistered. Guo has also been accused by the SEC of making false statements while raising hundreds of millions of dollars from investors through a cryptocurrency asset called H-Coin.

William Je.