Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui was arrested by authorities in New York in connection with a $1.4bn fraud on Wednesday.
Guo is said to have collectively defrauded investors out of $1.4bn through a number of ventures, some of which he ran with Steve Bannon, a former advisor to Donald Trump while he served as president.
One of the alleged schemes perpetrated by Guo has to do with H-Coin or Himalaya Coin, a venture that is said to have raised $500m from retail investors under a false pretense.
When the project launched in 2021, Guo promised that H-Coin was 20% backed by gold and said that the company would cover 100% of any investment losses incurred as a result of backing H-Coin in the first place.
Those claims were debunked and found to be untrue by the US Securities and Exchange Commission which investigated the venture and alleged that it was a scam. Shortly after this, Guo filed for bankruptcy and claimed he had become insolvent.
This was also found to be untrue after the Department of Justice announced that it had been able to retrieve more than $630m that belonged to the businessman which were the result of various fraudulent schemes.
Bannon was also arrested on Guo’s yacht in 2020. He was wanted in relation to wire fraud carried out under a false pretext that he was raising money to build a wall across the border between the US and Mexico.
Much of this money was misappropriated, investigators discovered. Bannon and Guo formed GTV Media Group, which authorities claim Guo used to perpetrate some of his scams. Bannon has not been charged with involvement in the scams under the GTV roof.
Shortly after Guo was apprehended, his Manhattan’s Upper East Side apartment caught fire and burned for two hours before firefighters were able to put out the fire. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the case.
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