An exiled Chinese billionaire and pal of former White House advisor Steve Bannon was arrested by federal authorities Wednesday for a billion-dollar fraud scheme, prosecutors said.
Ho Wan Kwok, aka “Guo Wengui” and “Miles Guo,” allegedly duped thousands of online followers out of investments and spent the ill-gotten cash on lavish assets, including a $36,000 mattress, $26.5 million New Jersey mansion and a $37 million luxury yacht.
Guo amassed a large online following after starting two non-profits in 2018 that pushed his purported agenda of being critical of the Chinese Communist Party, the Justice Department said.
Guo and a co-conspirator, Kin Ming Je, then set up numerous business entities, including a media group, a loan program, and members-only luxury clubs, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.
The alleged fraudster then sought investments in the businesses and siphoned off more than $1 billion given by thousands of his followers, the feds allege.
He spent the cash on opulent goods, including the New Jersey mansion and a massive yacht. Guo also bought a $140,000 piano and stuffed $10 million in his spouse’s personal bank account, according to the indictment.
Guo is a business associate of Bannon, a former chief advisor to President Donald Trump. Bannon was arrested on a yacht owned by Guo in 2022 for his alleged role in a scheme to defraud investors of a plan to privately construct a border wall.
Bannon was later pardoned by Trump.
Guo was hit with 12 counts for the fraud scheme Wednesday and faces a maximum of life in prison.