Guo promised high investment returns but used the funds to support his lavish lifestyle, including purchasing a $37 million yacht, a $3.5 million Ferrari, and two $36,000 mattresses.
Authorities said Guo, with help from longtime financial adviser Kin Ming
Je, cheated thousands of followers since 2018 by promising "outsized"
investment returns, but diverting much of their money to fund lavish
lifestyles for himself and his family.
The alleged improper
purchases included a $37 million yacht, a 50,000 square-foot mansion in
northern New Jersey, a $3.5 million Ferrari for Guo's son, a $62,000 TV,
and two $36,000 mattresses, according to authorities.
was charged with 11 criminal counts including securities fraud, wire
fraud and concealment of money laundering, after "lining his pockets
with the money he stole," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan
said in a statement.
The defendant was arrested on Wednesday
morning, and pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S.
Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker, who ordered him detained without
Guo wore a black shirt, black pants and brown shoes to the
courtroom. He was not handcuffed, and brought his hands together in a
prayer sign toward spectators before being led out.
Guo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. They will
propose a "robust bail package," according to Tamara Giwa, a federal
public defender who represented Guo at Wednesday's hearing. His next
court appearance is April 4.
has used other names like Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Kwok, has been a
business associate of Bannon, who was arrested in a fraud case in August
2020 while aboard Guo's yacht, the Lady May.
Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of his presidency. Bannon is not accused of wrongdoing in Guo's criminal case.
U.S. Department of Justice said it seized and is seeking the forfeiture
of $634 million of Guo's alleged fraud proceeds from 21 bank accounts,
including several at the now-closed Silvergate Bank.
It said it
also seized assets purchased with proceeds from Guo's alleged fraud,
including a Lamborghini Aventador, and wants Guo to forfeit the yacht.
criminal charges carry several decades of potential prison time. Guo
also faces related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil
Je, who lives in London and is also known as William Je,
faces the same 11 criminal counts plus an obstruction charge. He is at
Guo is a prominent critic of China's Communist Party. He
left that country in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown under
President Xi Jinping, and has been accused there of crimes including
bribery and money laundering. Guo has denied wrongdoing.
Guo's arrest, a fire broke out on the 18th floor at the
Sherry-Netherland hotel, where he has an apartment, on Manhattan's Upper
A spokesman for New York City's fire department said
no injuries were reported and officials were investigating. He declined
to say if they were examining any connection to Guo's arrest.
papers filed on Wednesday described a web of offerings that according
to prosecutors targeted investors aligned with Guo's policy objectives
in China, and inclined to believe the self-proclaimed billionaire when
it came to investing.
"We allege that Guo was a serial fraudster," SEC enforcement chief Gurbir