A Chinese business tycoon who is a driving force behind a sprawling disinformation network that has attacked the safety of coronavirus vaccines, promoted false election-fraud claims, spread baseless QAnon conspiracies, and harassed Chinese dissidents, has been arrested in a $1 billion fraud conspiracy.
Guo Wengui, 54, a close ally to former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, has been accused along with his financier and chief of staff of various crimes, including wire and securities fraud. He was charged in court papers under the name Ho Wan Kwok. He pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said the indictment stemmed from a scheme in which Guo Wengui lied to hundreds of thousands of online followers in the United States and around the world before misappropriating hundreds of millions of dollars.
Guo Wengui was charged with “lining his pockets with the money he stole, including buying himself, and his close relatives, a 50,000 square foot mansion, a $3.5 million Ferrari, and even two $36,000 mattresses, and financing a $37 million luxury yacht,” according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
In recent years Guo Wengui has also made headlines for harassing several prominent Chinese dissidents across the U.S.
In December of 2020, Guo Wengui sent protesters to the home of Chinese dissident Teng Biao, a college professor who has lived in Princeton Junction with his family since 2015. Teng Biao had been critical of both Donald Trump and GuoWengui in articles and social media posts. Other dissidents in California, Virginia, Texas, and other states were also harassed by Guo’s followers. The incidents began after Guo Wengui called on his followers to “eliminate traitors in the world” saying in a video naming some people, “Let’s get started, let’s finish with these traitors first.” Some people speculated that the protesters were being paid for their efforts. The protests were recorded and posted on Guo Wengui’s websites and social media channels. The protests ignited counterprotests, with dozens of Princeton area residents coming out to support Teng Biao and his family. The counterprotests only seemed to encourage Guo Wengui’s supporters to stay longer and produce more videos for Guo Wengui’s extensive social media network.
As recently as late January, Guo Wengui’s people returned to the sidewalk in front of Teng Biao’s house to harass him and his family. But this time around, Teng Biao’s supporters switched tactics. Everyone ignored the protesters, and they were gone within a few days.