Chinese businessman Guo Wengui denied bail in US fraud case
Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui on Thursday (local time) was denied bail by a New York federal judge on fraud and money-laundering charges, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The exiled businessman and vocal critic of Beijing were denied bail after being charged by the US with fraud last month. Guo left China in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown under President Xi Jinping.
Guo, who garnered attention by accusing Beijing of corruption from his Manhattan penthouse, was arrested and charged last month with a USD 1 billion fraud scheme, reported WSJ.
Guo and his financial adviser, Kin Ming Je, are accused of scheming to cheat thousands of victims. The two allegedly used more than USD 300 million of the proceeds to benefit themselves and their families, according to the indictment.
Guo, however, has pleaded not guilty and proposed 24-hour guard, and being subjected to detention with GPS monitoring at his wife’s Connecticut home, reported US News.
The judge called his proposed bail package insufficient, noting that he has filed for bankruptcy and that he has ‘the means and know-how to flee.’
US District Judge Analisa Torres said prosecutors had shown it more likely than not that Guo Wengui was a serious flight risk, and shown by clear and convincing evidence that he would pose a risk of economic harm to the community if released, reported US News.
Torres also said Guo’s “obstructive behaviour” in the criminal case–including a false claim he had just USD 10,000 of assets–and in civil and bankruptcy proceedings left her with no “reasonable assurance” he would comply with any bail conditions.
Federal prosecutors in the Manhattan US attorney’s office alleged he took advantage of the hundreds of thousands of followers he amassed online by soliciting investments in a cryptocurrency he developed, a media company and other ventures.
The Judge said Guo’s proposed bail package – which amounted to a USD 25 million bond, USD 5 million which would be secured by cash or real estate – was “insufficient,” noting he filed for bankruptcy and claimed to only have USD 10,000 in assets.
Torres said even though Guo offered his bond to be signed by two adults, including a relative, his family members have been accused of being “recipients of fraud proceeds.” Torres said Guo hadn’t identified a co-signer – with a sufficient net worth and ties to the US.
He spent some of the proceeds on lavish purchases, including a USD 26 million home in New Jersey, a yacht and a Ferrari, prosecutors allege, reported WSJ.
Guo was also a business associate of former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was arrested in a 2020 fraud case while aboard Guo’s yacht. The former US president later pardoned Bannon.