Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, known to many as an associate of Trump advisor Steve Bannon, has been charged in connection with a $1 billion fraud scheme today—and according to the allegations, Guo made some very big-ticket buys with those fraudulently acquired funds.
According to a release from the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s office, Guo—also known by a vast set of aliases including Ho Wan Kwok, Miles Guo, Miles Kwok, Brother Seven, and The Principal—stands accused of wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering in an “alleged sprawling and complex scheme by the defendants, and others, to solicit investments in various entities and programs through false statements and representations to hundreds of thousands of KWOK’s online followers.”
Once those investments were collected, Guo and his accomplices allegedly went on quite the spending spree. According to SDNY U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Guo splashed out on a series of luxury buys for himself and for his family including a 50,000-square-foot mansion in New Jersey, decorated with Chinese and Persian rugs worth $978,000, a $62,0000 television, a $140,000 Bosendorfer piano, two Hästens 2000T $36,000 mattresses, and a $53,000 fireplace log cradle holder. And those were the smaller big buys. Others included a $3.5 million Ferrari for his son, a $4.4 million custom Bugatti, and a $37 million luxury yacht. Prosecutors say Guo also used funds from investors to cover $2.3 million worth of maintenance expenses for that yacht. His co-conspirator William Je, meanwhile, allegedly deposited $10 million in personal accounts for himself and his wife.
Guo, an exiled Chinese businessman, grew a large online following after moving to the United States in 2015, and he has since allegedly worked to convince followers and others to provide funds for his companies, including GTV Media Group, the Himalaya Exchange, and Himalaya Farm Alliance. Guo, authorities say, promised “outsized returns” in exchange for this funding and allegedly proceeded to launder hundreds of millions of those funds to continue his fraudulent operations and conceal the true nature of his businesses—as well as, as these documents suggest, funding his ever-more-lavish lifestyle.