Biden's DOJ charges Epoch Times CFO in alleged $67 million transnational money laundering scheme

The Epoch Times was not named in the indictment.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

The chief financial officer of the Epoch Times, Weidong "Bill" Guan, was arrested by federal authorities and accused of participating in a transnational money laundering scheme.

Guan was arrested on Sunday and charged with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and two counts of bank fraud. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison while the following charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced in a press release.

Guan is accused of conspiring with others "to participate in a sprawling, transnational scheme to launder at least approximately $67 million of illegally obtained funds to bank accounts in the names of the Media Company and related entities" between 2020 and May 2024. 

Prosecutors say the scheme benefitted Guan, a "multinational media company headquartered in Manhattan, New York," and certain entities affiliated with the company. The Epoch Times was not named in the indictment, though Guan was listed as the company’s tax filings for the most recent tax year, according to ProPublica.

The attorney’s office alleged that Guan managed the company’s "Make Money Online" (MMO) team, members of which under his management "used cryptocurrency to knowingly purchase tens of millions of dollars in crime proceeds, including proceeds of fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits, that had been loaded onto tens of thousands of prepaid debit cards."

These "crime proceeds" were allegedly purchased by participants of the scheme "using a particular cryptocurrency platform, at discounted rates of approximately 70 to 80 cents per dollar, and in exchange for cryptocurrency. "

Once purchased, the MMO team and other participants allegedly used stolen personal identification information to open accounts including bank, cryptocurrency, and prepaid debit card accounts. These accounts were said to be used to "transfer the crime proceeds into bank accounts associated with the Media Entities."

The indictment stated that some proceeds were transferred to the personal bank and cryptocurrency accounts of Guan. "For example, from in or about April 2020 through in or about January 2021, seven of the Media Entities’ Bank Accounts made approximately 85 transfers totaling approximately $16.7 million to Guan’s bank accounts." Some of these funds were allegedly transferred to Guan’s personal crypto accounts, while other portions were transferred back to the initial crypto account "likely to purchase additional crime proceeds, in continuation of the Money Laundering Scheme."

Guan and others employed were reportedly alerted about the "suspicious nature of financial transactions involving the Media Entities’ Bank Accounts that was indicative of fraud and money laundering." Guan was said to have forwarded some of these alerts, and responded in other instances "with false information."

The indictment also states that during the time of this alleged scheme, Guan "made multiple false statements about the source of the Media Entities’ increase in funds or purported 'revenue' increase." Guan reportedly stated that this increase in revenue was due to an increase in donations and subscriptions.

"As alleged, Bill Guan, the Chief Financial Officer of a global newspaper and media company, conspired with others to benefit himself, the media company, and its affiliates by laundering tens of millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits and other crime proceeds," US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. When banks raised questions about the funds, Guan allegedly lied repeatedly and falsely claimed that the funds came from legitimate donations to the media company.  Today’s charges reflect this Office’s ongoing commitment to vigorously enforcing the laws against those who facilitate fraud through money laundering and to protecting the integrity of the US financial system."

"The company intends to and will fully cooperate with any investigation dealing with the allegations against Mr. Guan," The Epoch Times said in a statement, according to USA Today. "In the interim, although Mr. Guan is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the company has suspended him until this matter is resolved."

US v. Guan Indictment by Hannah Nightingale on Scribd

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