Chinese billionaire and associate of Steve Bannon arrested in $1 billion fraud conspiracy, officials say

Exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, an associate of former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, was arrested by federal authorities in New York on Wednesday morning, accused of orchestrating a $1 billion fraud scheme, prosecutors announced. 

Guo, charged in court papers as Ho Wan Kwok and who also goes by Miles Guo and Miles Kwok, was charged with 12 counts including wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in an indictment unsealed Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a news release.

The same day the news of his arrest came to light, Guo’s Manhattan apartment in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue was found on fire, a source familiar with the matter said. An FBI spokesperson said agents were executing law enforcement activity at Guo’s apartment when the blaze broke out, after he was already in custody.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that Guo had led a complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of more than $1 billion. 

Guo and his alleged co-conspirator Kin Ming Je, also known as William Je, are accused of taking advantage of Guo’s online presence to solicit investments in various companies and programs by “promising outsized financial returns and other benefits,” prosecutors said. They then misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of fraudulently obtained funds, which Guo allegedly used on a lavish lifestyle. 

“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.