- Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui was arrested for alleged $1 billion fraud and cryptocurrency scheme involving bogus investment returns.
- Suspicious fire interrupts FBI search of Wengui’s luxury 5th Avenue penthouse, prompting the evacuation of agents and residents.
- Prosecutors seize over $650 million in assets, including luxury cars and a yacht, while Wengui’s financial advisor William Je remains at large.
A fire of suspicious origin started yesterday inside a hotel PH on Manhattan’s (NYC) famous 5th Avenue as FBI agents were searching following the arrest of Chinese billionaire businessman Guo Wengui who lives there.
Agents and other residents had to be evacuated from the 18th floor of the famous Sherry-Netherland Hotel on 5th Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets when the fire broke out just hours after Wengui’s arrest.
A yacht he owned was in the news in August 2020 after the FBI went to arrest a guest on board: former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, also charged in an alleged fraud scheme related to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Months later, shortly before leaving office, Trump pardoned Bannon in that case.
The man arrested yesterday, known by several names, including Miles Guo and Miles Kwok, Brother Seven, and The Principal, has lived in the U.S. since 2015 after fleeing China, where he was accused of corrupt business dealings and massive fraud, NBC News detailed.
The NYPD bomb squad (NYPD) joined firefighters (FDNY) in the investigation into the origin of the fire at the $32 million apartment.
In addition to the luxury penthouse on New York’s 5th Avenue, the FBI also searched a mansion Wengui owns in Mahwah, New Jersey.
The arrestee is accused of running a $1 billion fraud, defrauding thousands of investors in a scheme that allegedly began in 2018 and lasted until 2023. The FBI arrested him at the luxury hotel yesterday morning, alleging he created bogus cryptocurrency and media investment schemes to pad his own profit, duping online followers with promises of mammoth investment returns.
Prosecutors said he used stolen millions to buy luxury sports cars, mattresses worth $36,000 each, and a $37 million yacht.
Prosecutors seized over $650 million in alleged fraud proceeds from 21 bank accounts and assets, including a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster automobile, as part of the case against Wengui and his financial advisor William Je in Manhattan federal court.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint against both men. Je, a United Kingdom, and Hong Kong resident, remains at large.
The SEC charges them with engaging in fraudulent and unregistered financial offerings. The SEC also separately charged Wengui with making misrepresentations by raising hundreds of millions of dollars from investors through a cryptocurrency asset known as H-Coin.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that, besides stealing cash for himself, Wengui sent millions to family members and a business associate while promising investors future large profits and often using social media to promote his businesses.
All charges are mere accusations, and the persons prosecuted are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.