washington - An exiled Chinese businessman with ties to former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon has been arrested on federal charges of defrauding his online followers out of more than $1 billion, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Ho Wan Kwok, also known as Miles Guo and Guo Wengui, was arrested earlier Wednesday in New York and was to make his first court appearance later in the day. Kwok fled to the United States in 2015.
The charges against Kwok stem from an alleged conspiracy to solicit investments in various entities and programs from thousands of people on social media.
"Kwok is 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," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
As part of the investigation of Kwok, the Justice Department seized about $634 million from 21 different bank accounts and a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster, Williams said.
A 12-count indictment unsealed Wednesday charged Kwok with wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.
Kwok's alleged financier, Kin Ming Je, is also charged with obstruction of justice. Je, a dual citizen of Hong Kong and Britain, remains at large.
The indictment accused Kwok of lying to his online followers and promising outsized profits in return for investing in four ventures known as GTV Media Group, Himalaya Farm Alliance, G|CLUBS and the Himalaya Exchange.
"The indictment today alleges the defendants were behind an elaborate scheme that defrauded thousands of individuals of over $1 billion," FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement. "Fraudulent investment scams make victims out of innocent people, ultimately harming the public's confidence in the integrity of financial systems."
Kwok and Bannon are longtime associates. Bannon was arrested on a yacht owned by Kwok off the coast of Connecticut in 2020. He was charged in connection with stealing money from a fundraising campaign for a project known as "We Build the Wall."