The exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who was charged by U.S. prosecutors in a $1 billion fraud conspiracy, will go to trial in April.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres set the trial date at a hearing Tuesday in New York City. She also granted Guo’s request for access to a government-provided computer to review evidence.
Federal authorities arrested Guo in March on that he defrauded thousands of online followers out of over $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 until March.
Prosecutors said the U.S. government seized $634 million in alleged fraud proceeds from 21 bank accounts. Law enforcement seized assets purchased with the profits of the alleged fraud, including a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roads, prosecutors said.
Guo, 52, has lived in the U.S. since around 2015 and has amassed a “substantial online following,” prosecutors said.
Guo, charged in court papers as Ho Wan Kwok and who also goes by Miles Guo and Miles Kwok, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts, including wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.
Guo's lawyer, Stephen Cook, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Guo has remained in jail since he was arrested. Hoping to obtain bail, Cook said in a court filing that Guo would remain in the country if he was released, because "the risk to his life is simply too great for him to leave."
Cook claimed in court documents that Guo is not a flight risk because his wife of 38 years and daughter live in the U.S.
In April, Torres rejected Guo’s proposed $25 million bail package, saying he must remain in jail pending trial because he "has means and know-how to flee," court documents show.
Even though law enforcement officials confiscated Guo’s two passports and copies of another passport, Torres said a "clever defendant with sufficient resources could figure out a way to leave the country without travel documents."
She said Guo’s proposed bail package was "insufficient," adding that he filed for bankruptcy protection and claimed to have only $10,000 in assets. Torres said Guo didn’t identify a co-signer for his bond who had sufficient means and ties to the U.S.
Guo appealed the judge’s order last month.