Chinese financier Guo Wengui, who is linked to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was hit with an expansive racketeering count on Thursday — Wengui was already being accused of orchestrating a $1 billion fraud conspiracy,
In covering the story, the Daily Beast describes Wengui as Bannon’s “embattled sugar daddy,” reporting that the superseding indictment “identified anti-CCP groups the two founded, as well as social media app Gettr, as part of a fraudulent enterprise… that bilked Chinese dissidents living abroad.”
More from Courthouse News Service:
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have accused Wengui — also known as Miles Guo and Ho Wan Kwok — of carrying out a complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of over $1 billion dollars by lying to prospective investors and promising them outsized returns if they invested, or provided money to his Chinese media platform GTV, and other companies, including Himalaya Farm Alliance, G CLUBS, and the Himalaya Exchange.
Wengui’s first indictment included criminal counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, international money laundering and obstruction of justice.
The superseding indictment unsealed Thursday morning adds an additional count of racketeering conspiracy under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, which carries a 20 year maximum sentence and forfeiture of any ill-gotten gains from the criminal activity.
As noted by CNS, the RICO count includes forfeiture allegations requiring the turnover of “any interest in, security of, claim against, or property or contractual right of any kind affording a source of influence over, any enterprise the defendants and their coconspirators established, operated, controlled, conducted, or participated in the conduct of, in violation of Section 1962.”
Prosecutors say the self-exiled Chinese billionaire misled would-be investors in a crypto asset security referred to as “H-Coin,” “Himalaya Coin,” or “HCN,” falsely stating that 20 percent of H-Coin’s value was backed by gold and that he would personally compensate investors for any potential losses, the outlet added.
Approximately $634 million was seized by the feds from 21 different bank accounts between September 2022 and March 2023, according to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams
The Daily Beast said Wengui used investors’ money “to buy a mansion, a yacht, multiple foreign-built luxury vehicles, ornamental rugs, and even a ‘$53,000 fireplace log cradle holder.'”
The outlet also reported on dozens of entities that the Department of Justice named on Thursday:
This list features several investment vehicles and various arms of the sprawling multilingual media operation Guo and Bannon used to depict themselves and their allies as messianic crusaders against the Chinese Communist Party—as well as companies connected to the “farm” network that The Daily Beast reported in 2021 amassed money from supporters for dubious investments. But perhaps the most notable name of all those is Gettr—the “free speech” social media platform formerly helmed by Trump advisor Jason Miller and which The Daily Beast revealed shortly after its launch was funded by Guo, and the twin nonprofits the Rule of Law Foundation and Rule of Law Society.
Bannon launched the two similarly named groups with Guo in 2019 for the ostensible purpose of revealing abuses by Beijing—but they quickly turned toward spreading misinformation, including about the origins of COVID-19. Bannon, who has not been charged in the case and whose spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has since formally stepped away from the two groups.
The New Federal State of China, which Bannon “midwifed” into existence, according to the Daily Beast, was also listed. The article claimed that the operation was “a putative shadow government for a future democratic China which Bannon and Guo announced from the deck of a boat in New York Harbor in 2020.”
“The defendants and entities set forth in paragraph 3a., together with others known and unknown, were members and associates of a criminal organization (the ‘Kwok Enterprise’) engaged in criminal activity, to include wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud,” the charging document reads directly under the list, according to the Daily Beast. “The Kwok Enterprise constituted an ongoing organization whose members functioned as a continuing unit for the common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise.”