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Steve Bannon Is Neck-Deep in Guo Wengui’s Allegedly Fraudulent Business Empire

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Federal investigators have asked witnesses about Bannon’s connections to the far-right mogul.

In late November 2021, Steve Bannon appeared in a live broadcast on GTV, a media outlet that he’d helped his friend Guo Wengui launch a year earlier. Bannon used the appearance to celebrate HCoin, a supposed cryptocurrency that Guo was selling. The currency, Bannon said, was a “monumental” and “extraordinary” success. Bannon also hailed the Himalaya Exchange, Guo’s purported platform for trading digital assets like HCoin. Bannon lauded GTV. He even touted Guo’s fashion company. These ventures, Bannon suggested, were an opportunity for Guo’s fans, mostly Chinese emigres, to hurt China’s rulers. “If you look at institutionalization of the counteroffensive to Chinese Communist Party, it’s pretty impressive,” Bannon gushed.

That was just one of numerous occasions in which Bannon has heaped praise on Guo and his companies, often in venues where his words mostly reach Guo’s anti-Communist followers.

On Wednesday, federal agents arrested Guo and accused him, along his former financier William Je, of stealing more than a $1 billion from thousands of Guo’s own supporters by soliciting investments in some of the same companies that Bannon has promoted. Prosecutors said those companies were mostly fraudulent. An early HCoin’s valuation at preposterous $27 billion, they said, was completely fake, as was the blockchain technology Guo and Bannon claimed supported it. Guo—who fled China in 2014 ahead of separate criminal charges there—allegedly used investors’ money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including a Ferrari, two $36,000 mattresses, and a yacht on which Bannon himself has lived. Guo allegedly did this while claiming in federal bankruptcy court to have almost no assets. Guo, who did not receive bail Wednesday, has pleaded not guilty.

In multiple indictments and an SEC complaint Wednesday, federal law enforcement also offered a broader critique of the joint project Bannon and Guo have taken on over the past five years. Prosecutors suggested that an entire constellation of companies and nonprofits that Bannon and Guo have launched together, which they collectively dub the “whistleblower movement,” was largely a con. That “counteroffensive to Chinese Communist Party” that Bannon touted was just a means for Guo to line his pockets, the feds said.

Bannon has not been charged with any crimes related to Guo. Bannon, his lawyer, and a spokesman did not respond to repeated inquiries. Bannon is not mentioned in any of the federal charging documents. And no evidence has emerged showing that he knew about the alleged diversion of investor funds at the heart of the charges against Guo. 

Still, Bannon gave vital assistance to Guo’s operation. The former top aide to Donald Trump not only publicly cheered on companies that Guo allegedly used to rip off fans, but also privately advised Guo on how to solicit investments in those companies. 

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