Prosecutor: Chinese man charged in $1B fraud ‘sociopathic’

Apr 4, 2023, 11:32 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — A Chinese businessman charged in a $1 billion fraud was labeled “sociopathic” by a prosecutor as a judge heard arguments Tuesday over whether any bail conditions could ensure he’d not flee or engage in illegal business practices while awaiting trial.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres did not immediately rule whether bail can be set for Guo Wengui, 54, who was arrested three weeks ago on charges including wire and securities fraud. He was charged in court papers under the name Ho Wan Kwok.

Guo, once thought to be among the richest people in China, left in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown as individuals close to him were ensnared, including a top intelligence official. Chinese authorities have accused Guo of rape, kidnapping, bribery and other offenses.

Since then, he has been sought by that nation’s government. Guo has maintained that the allegations against him in China are false, saying they were intended to punish him for publicly outing corruption there and criticizing leading figures in the Communist Party.

Defense lawyer Stephen Cook acknowledged during Tuesday’s hearing that some facets of Guo’s life sound as if they come “from a spy novel,” noting the defendant has been targeted and harassed in his homeland for the last decade.

But Cook said the Chinese government’s relentless pursuit of his client means Guo must use cellphone scrambler devices and other electronic equipment to avoid hacks on his devices.

He said steps were necessary to “protect his ability to get his message out to the millions of followers he has around the world.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Finkel said Guo has left some victims among the thousands of investors in his frauds so traumatized at their ruined finances that they cry when they are interviewed by prosecutors.

He said Guo has the “uncanny ability to get victims to part with hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“The defendant’s fraud is, quite honestly, sociopathic,” Finkel said.

He said the potential that Guo might be convicted and sentenced to decades in prison gives him an “exceptionally compelling motive to flee.”

While living in New York as a fugitive, he became an outspoken critic of the ruling Communist Party and developed a close relationship with Steve Bannon, a onetime political strategist to former President Donald Trump. Guo and Bannon announced the founding of a joint initiative in 2020 that they said was aimed at overthrowing the Chinese government.

Guo’s lavish lifestyle has been a focus of prosecutors, who say he has a 50,000 square foot mansion, a $3.5 million Ferrari, two $36,000 mattresses and a $37 million luxury yacht.

Yet his lawyers, while maintaining Guo is broke, proposed a $25 million bail package, including $5 million in cash or property, along with location monitoring, an armed guard watching over him and home detention at a Connecticut residence where his wife resides.

Prosecutors say Guo can’t be trusted and that he has access to tens of millions of dollars despite claims he is unemployed, in bankruptcy proceedings and down to about $10,000 in assets that were not liquid cash.

United States News

This photo provided by the chipmaker Nvidia shows the company’s HGX H100 module, which can use as...

Associated Press

AI chips are hot. Here’s what they are, what they’re for and why investors see gold

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The hottest thing in technology is an unprepossessing sliver of silicon closely related to the chips that power video game graphics. It’s an artificial intelligence chip, designed specifically to make building AI systems such as ChatGPT faster and cheaper. Such chips have suddenly taken center stage in what some experts consider […]

1 day ago

Natalie R. Coles, vice president & chief development officer at Wilberforce University, poses on th...

Associated Press

US companies, nudged by Black employees, have stepped up donations to HBCUs

Natalie Coles will never forget receiving an unexpected phone call in 2020. On the line was Virginia-based Dominion Energy, offering to give money to Wilberforce University, the small historically Black college where she is in charge of fundraising. The company’s $500,000 donation went in part toward laptops and hot spots for students when the pandemic […]

1 day ago

FILE - This booking photo provided by the Clay County, Mo., Sheriff's Office shows Andrew Lester. L...

Associated Press

Judge agrees to seal court documents in Ralph Yarl shooting; suspect to be in court

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man accused of shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly came to his door last month is scheduled to be back in court Thursday, days after a judge ruled that court documents in the case will be sealed and kept from the public. The hearing for 84-year-old Andrew Lester […]

1 day ago

FILE - Susana Lujano, left, a dreamer from Mexico who lives in Houston, joins other activists to ra...

Associated Press

Revised DACA program to be debated before Texas judge who previously ruled against it

HOUSTON (AP) — A revised version of a federal policy that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is set to be debated Thursday before a federal judge who previously ruled the program illegal. Attorneys representing the nine states that have sued to end the Deferred Action […]

1 day ago

FILE - Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that lega...

Associated Press

LGBTQ+ Pride month kicks off with protests, parades, parties

NEW YORK (AP) — The start of June marks the beginning of Pride month around the U.S. and some parts of the world, a season to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities and to protest against recent attacks on hard-won civil rights gains. This year’s Pride takes place in a contentious political climate […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

After sailing though House on bipartisan vote, Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal now goes to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veering away from a default crisis, the House overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, sending the deal that President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated to the Senate for swift passage in a matter of days, before a fast-approaching deadline. The hard-fought compromise pleased few, but lawmakers assessed […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

Prosecutor: Chinese man charged in $1B fraud ‘sociopathic’