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The Epoch Times Chief Financial Officer Indicted In Alleged Money Laundering Scheme

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Federal prosecutors arrested and charged the chief financial officer of The Epoch Times for an alleged “transnational scheme to launder at least approximately $67 million of illegally obtained funds to benefit himself and the media company.”

Weidong Guan, a/k/a “Bill Guan,” is accused of conspiring 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.”

“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 U.S. financial system,” Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated.

“No idea if the case has merits, but they have so many outstanding, quality people on staff and as contributors. Hope this doesn’t impact their jobs and the great work Epoch is doing,” Jordan Schachtel commented.

The United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York stated in a press release:

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment:

From at least in or about 2020, through in or about May 2024, GUAN, while working as the Chief Financial Officer of a multinational media company headquartered in New York, New York (the “Media Company”), conspired 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 (together, with the Media Company, the “Media Entities”). In furtherance of the money laundering conspiracy, GUAN managed, among other teams, the Media Company’s “Make Money Online” team (the “MMO Team”), which was located in a particular foreign office of the Media Company. Under GUAN’s management, members of the MMO Team and others 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. The crime proceeds were generally purchased by the scheme participants, including members of the MMO Team and others working with them, using a particular cryptocurrency platform, at discounted rates of approximately 70 to 80 cents per dollar, and in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Once the crime proceeds were purchased, the MMO Team and other participants in the scheme used stolen personal identification information to open accounts, including prepaid debit card accounts, cryptocurrency accounts, and bank accounts, that were used to transfer the crime proceeds into bank accounts associated with the Media Entities. After the crime proceeds reached those bank accounts, they were often further laundered through other bank accounts held by the Media Entities, GUAN’s personal bank accounts, and through GUAN’s personal cryptocurrency accounts.

In or around the same time the money laundering scheme began, the Media Company’s internal financial accounting reflected an increased annual revenue over the previous year of approximately 410%—from approximately $15 million to approximately $62 million. When banks asked GUAN about the increase in transactions entering the bank accounts of the Media Entities, GUAN lied, including to two U.S.-based banks, and claimed that the increase in funds came from donations. However, in 2022, GUAN wrote a letter addressed to a congressional office falsely stating “donations” constitute “an insignificant portion of the overall revenue” of the Media Company.

Guan is charged with “one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and two counts of bank fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison,” the press release read.

“The charges do not relate to the Media Company’s newsgathering activities,” it added.

“Guan was arrested Sunday morning, and pleaded not guilty on Monday afternoon before a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan, according to a court notice. He was released on a $3 million personal recognizance bond, and his travel is restricted to parts of New York and New Jersey, among other restrictions,” CNBC wrote.

CNBC reports:

The Epoch Times in a statement said it has temporarily suspended Guan.

“The company intends to and will fully cooperate with any investigation dealing with the allegations against Mr. Guan,” a spokesperson for the outlet told CNBC.

“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.”

Guan, a resident of Secaucus, New Jersey, managed the Epoch Times’ “Make Money Online team,” which carried out the scheme to buy “crime proceeds” and transfer them to bank accounts linked to the media outlet, according to his indictment.

From 2020 to 2024, the team allegedly used a crypto platform to buy tens of millions of dollars in crime proceeds at discounted rates, of 70 to 80 cents on the dollar, in exchange for cryptocurrency. The crime proceeds, which came from sources including “fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits,” were loaded onto tens of thousands of prepaid debit cards, prosecutors alleged.

After purchasing the crime proceeds, participants allegedly used stolen personally identifiable information to open various types of accounts and transfer the proceeds into bank accounts linked with the media outlet and related entities.

They were often laundered again through other accounts, including Guan’s own personal bank and crypto accounts, according to prosecutors.

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