Trial starts for exiled Chinese businessman who ran over $1 billion fraud

NEW YORK, NY – A wealthy Chinese businessman who fled his homeland a decade ago and became a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party is now facing trial in New York for allegedly orchestrating a billion-dollar fraud scheme. Guo Wengui, 57, was once among China’s wealthiest individuals but now sits in a Manhattan federal courtroom, accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Guo, who was arrested in March 2023, pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial, expected to last seven weeks, began with jury selection on Wednesday. Judge Analisa Torres addressed the potential jurors, explaining that they would remain partially anonymous, identified only by their juror numbers in court, although their identities would be known to the legal teams and court staff.

By midday, many prospective jurors had been dismissed due to personal hardships that would prevent them from serving in a lengthy trial. Opening statements are anticipated to start on Thursday.

Judge Torres previously decided on partial anonymity for the jury, citing Guo’s history of attempting to influence judicial proceedings. Guo had posted videos and social media messages encouraging his followers to protest at the homes and offices of legal officials involved in his case.

Guo left China in 2014 amid a government crackdown on corruption, which implicated several individuals close to him, including a high-ranking intelligence official. Chinese authorities have accused Guo of various crimes, including rape and bribery, but he claims these charges are fabricated to silence his anti-corruption revelations.

While residing in New York, Guo formed a close relationship with Steve Bannon. In 2020, the two announced an initiative aimed at overthrowing the Chinese government.

Earlier this month, Yvette Wang, Guo’s chief of staff, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Guo to defraud investors through entities like GTV Media Group Inc. and the Himalaya Exchange. Wang faces up to 10 years in prison when she is sentenced in September.

Prosecutors allege that Guo convinced investors to contribute over $1 billion to his controlled entities. Initially identified as “Ho Wan Kwok” in court documents, Guo is now referred to as “Miles Guo,” the name by which he is commonly known.