Chinese Billionaire Guo Wenghui Arrested Over Alleged $1 Billion Fraud Scheme

Wengui, aka Ho Wan Kwok, is an associate of Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon. He's accused of misappropriating and defrauding investor money.

Fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui hold a news conference on November 20, 2018 in New York

Image via Getty/Don Emmert

Fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui hold a news conference on November 20, 2018 in New York

Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire with ties to the former Trump White House, has been arrested on federal fraud charges.

According to CNN, the exiled businessman is accused of orchestrating a $1 billion fraud scheme in which he misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars from investors. The Department of Justice says Wengui—aka “Ho Wan Kwok,” “Miles Kwok,” “Brother Seven,” and “The Principal”—solicited investments into various companies by “promising outsized financial returns and other benefits.” He and his alleged co-conspirator, Jin Ming Je, reportedly used Wengui’s online presence to push the fraudulent offers, which involved his media company GTV.

Federal investigators say Wengui and Je—a 56-year-old resident of the United Kingdom and Hong Kong—used investors’ money to fund their lavish lifestyles between 2018 through March 2023. They alleged used the “fraudulently obtained” money on extravagant purchases, including a 50,000-square-foot mansion in New Jersey, a $3.5 million Ferrari, a $4.4 million Bugatti, a $62,000 TV set, and a couple of $36,000 mattresses that were reportedly made of horse hair.

Wengui and Je were charged wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering charges. The former was arrested Wednesday, while the latter reportedly remains at large.

“The indictment today alleges the defendants were behind an elaborate scheme that defrauded thousands of individuals of over one billion dollars,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement. “Fraudulent investment scams make victims out of innocent people, ultimately harming the public’s confidence in the integrity of financial systems. The FBI continues to make investigating complex financial crimes a top priority, and anyone attempting these crimes will be made to face the consequences in the criminal justice system.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also hit Wengui and Je with a parallel civil suit. According to the complaint, the defendants conducted fraudulent securities offerings that raised “at least hundreds of millions of dollars from investors” in the U.S. and around the world. 

The 54-year-old moved to the U.S. in 2015 in an alleged effort to dodge corruption charges in China. Shortly after his arrival, Wengui founded two nonprofit organizations: the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society, which he used to “expose” the so-called “evil” of the Chinese Communist Party government. Within the next several years, Wengui amassed a large far-right following and became a close associate of Steve Bannon, a former White House adviser for Donald Trump.

Bannon, who helped launch GTV, has not been charged.

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