Guo Wengui, Chinese billionaire and associate of Steve Bannon, will be tried in 2024

Exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who has been indicted by US prosecutors in a $1 billion fraudulent conspiracy, will face trial in April.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres set the trial date at a hearing on Tuesday in New York. She also granted Guo’s request to access a government-provided computer to review the evidence.

Federal authorities arrested Guo in March for defrauding thousands of online subscribers out of more than $1 billion. He promised his followers “outsized financial returns” but instead used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle, according to prosecutors, who said the scheme took place from 2018 to March.

Prosecutors said the US government seized $634 million in suspected fraud proceeds from 21 bank accounts. Law enforcement seized assets purchased with proceeds from the alleged fraud, including a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roads, prosecutors said.

Guo, 52, has lived in the United States since around 2015 and has amassed a “substantial online following”, prosecutors said.

He is also a business associate of Trump’s White House adviser Steve Bannon, who was arrested on his yacht in a fraud case in August 2020. President Donald Trump pardoned Bannon in 2021.

Guo, accused in court papers as Ho Wan Kwok and also known as Miles Guo and Miles Kwok, pleaded not guilty to 11 counts including wire fraud, securities fraud, fraud banking and money laundering.

Guo’s attorney, Stephen Cook, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Guo has remained in prison since his arrest. Hoping to secure bail, Cook said in a court filing that Guo would stay in the country if released because “the risk to his life is simply too great for him to leave.”

Cook claimed in court documents that Guo was not a flight risk because his 38-year-old wife and daughter lived in the United States.

In April, Torres rejected Guo’s $25 million bond offer, saying he should remain in jail pending trial because he “has the means and the know-how to flee”, according to court documents.

Even though law enforcement officials confiscated Guo’s two passports and copies of another passport, Torres said a “smart defendant with sufficient resources could find a way to leave the country without journey”.

She said the bail offered by Guo was “insufficient”, adding that he had filed for bankruptcy and claimed to have only $10,000 in assets. Torres said Guo had not identified a co-signer for his bail who had sufficient means and ties to the United States.

Guo appealed the judge’s order last month.

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