NEW YORK, May 22 — Jury selection begins today in the criminal trial of exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, who US prosecutors have accused of defrauding thousands of investors and supporters out of more than US$1 billion.

The trial before US District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan could last into July.

It is expected to touch on sensitive areas, with prosecutors seeking to keep Guo, a fierce critic of China’s Communist Party, from eliciting classified information during witness testimony.

Guo, who has several aliases including Miles Guo, Miles Kwok and Ho Wan Kwok, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including securities fraud, wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and conspiracy, including for money laundering.


He has been jailed in Brooklyn since his March 2023 arrest, and could face decades in prison if convicted. His age has been reported as 54 and 55, and federal prison records say he is 57.

Guo has been a business associate of former US President Donald Trump’s onetime adviser Steve Bannon.

It was on Guo’s US$37 million yacht, the Lady May, where Bannon was arrested in 2020 in a separate fraud case. That case ended when Trump pardoned Bannon in the waning hours of his presidency. Bannon had pleaded not guilty.


Prosecutors accused Guo and his accomplices of taking advantage of his prolific online presence and hundreds of thousands of followers to cheat investors in a media company, a cryptocurrency ventures and two other fraud schemes.

Rather than deliver the promised outsized financial gains, prosecutors said Guo stole money to fund an extravagant lifestyle including a New Jersey mansion, a US$3.5 million Ferrari for his son and two US$36,000 mattresses.

Prosecutors have also sought the forfeiture of the mansion, the yacht, bank accounts, a Bugatti, a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce.

Their case against Guo may have been strengthened when his former chief of staff Yvette Wang pleaded guilty on May 3 to conspiring to commit both wire fraud and money laundering. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Special measures for jurors

Guo left China in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown under President Xi Jinping. Officials there accused Guo of bribery, money laundering and other crimes, which he has denied.

After moving to the United States, Guo bought a home in the Sherry-Netherland on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, and drew ardent fans through his criticism of China’s government, including by accusing leaders of corruption.

At Beijing’s request, the global police organisation Interpol in April 2017 issued a “red notice” for Guo’s arrest.

Last month, Torres rejected Guo’s bid to dismiss the indictment, saying prosecutors could try to establish a pattern of racketeering at trial.

Jurors will be kept anonymous from the public and be partially sequestered.

This reflects in part what Torres called the substantial public attention to the case, and Guo’s “history of using his organisation to harass and threaten those who dare to criticise and oppose him.”

Torres kept Guo in jail out of concern that if released he would be a serious flight risk and a danger to the community. A federal appeals court upheld her decision last June.

Guo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Connecticut in February 2022. That case was later combined with the bankruptcies of other companies he controlled. Torres has rejected Guo’s bid to put the bankruptcy cases on hold.

The case is US v. Guo, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 23-cr-00118. — Reuters