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US accuses Chinese tycoon of billion-dollar fraud





US authorities have charged a Chinese property tycoon based in New York with orchestrating a billion-dollar fraud.


Guo Wengui and one of his business partners, Kin Ming Je, are accused of wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.


Mr Guo is a critic of the Chinese government and an associate of ex-White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.


In an online post, Mr Guo said he was handcuffed and interrogated for more than an hour.


Authorities say Mr Je lives in London and is still at large.


Mr Guo goes by several aliases including Miles Guo, Miles Kwok and "Brother Seven". He was named in the indictment unsealed Wednesday as Ho Wan Kwok. In 2017, he claimed political asylum in the United States, alleging persecution by Communist Party authorities.


Fraud allegations

The indictment alleges that Mr Guo and Mr Je raised $1bn from thousands of online followers who thought they were funding media businesses and an exclusive membership club.


They also allegedly used a cryptocurrency called Himalaya Coin to steal millions from investors.


Prosecutors say the funds were funnelled into personal accounts tied to Mr Guo and Mr Je. The money was spent on luxury property, yachts, Lamborghini and Bugatti sports cars, and nearly $1m of Chinese and Persian rugs.


Starting in September last year, the US government seized approximately $634m of the proceeds from 21 different bank accounts.


The indictment alleges that Mr Guo built his following among opponents of the Chinese Communist Party by founding two non-profit organisations, the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society.

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