Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, a self-declared dissident has been detained and charged with duping thousands of followers out of more than USD 1 billion via intricate investment schemes, according to US authorities, CNN reported.
Guo, a fervent opponent of the Chinese government who lives in exile in Manhattan and is connected to Steve Bannon, a former adviser to Donald Trump, was arrested in New York on Wednesday morning. He is accused of scamming or misappropriating investor funds through a number of schemes, including those involving his media company, GTV Media Group, the Himalaya Farm Alliance farm loan programme, and a cryptocurrency called Himalaya Coin.
Guo also goes by the names Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo.
According to the prosecution, instead of investing the money as he had promised potential investors, Guo used it to maintain his USD 37 million, 145-foot luxury yacht, USD 4.4 million mansion in New Jersey, and USD 4.4 million custom-built Bugatti sports car, as well as to invest in a hedge fund for GTV and a relative, according to CNN.
Guo agreed to be detained, but a federal judge denied him bail.
A person with knowledge of the situation said that a fire started at Guo's residence earlier on Wednesday as the FBI was executing a search warrant there. The cause of the fire is being looked into, according to Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the US attorney's office.
Guo is accused of using the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society, two non-profit organisations he co-founded, to draw in supporters who shared many of his beliefs.
The non-profit organisations were connected to a movement supporting the idea that the new coronavirus was probably created in a Chinese laboratory. Guo and Bannon were the co-founders of the Rule of Law groups.
In this case, Bannon is not facing any charges.
A report published in CNN read, in 2020, Bannon was detained aboard Guo's yacht on suspicion of fraud relating to a fundraising campaign for a border wall. Trump pardoned Bannon but indicted him on comparable state crimes. Bannon has entered a not-guilty plea.
According to prosecutors, a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster and $634 million from 21 bank accounts have been frozen.
Guo was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in addition to facing criminal accusations of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, international money laundering, and obstruction of justice, CNN reported. (ANI)