Exiled Chinese businessman's chief-of-staff pleads guilty in US to fraud

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) - The chief of staff to exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring with him to carry out a massive scheme that defrauded thousands of investors out of more than $1 billion.

Yvette Wang, 45, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Her plea came just three weeks before she was set to face trial alongside Guo.

Wang has been held in custody since she and Guo were arrested in March 2023. Wang now faces up to 10 years in prison when she goes before U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres for sentencing on Sept. 10, according to her plea agreement.

"Wang inflicted pain and loss on so many, and she will now be held to account for the harm she and others caused," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

Wang's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Kwok, Guo is a critic of China's Communist Party and business associate of former U.S. President Donald Trump's onetime adviser Steve Bannon.

Guo has been jailed in Brooklyn since his March 2023 arrest and is set to face trial on May 22 on charges that he and his accomplices defrauded investors in a media company, cryptocurrency and other ventures.

An indictment alleges that Guo took advantage of his prolific online presence and hundreds of thousands of followers by promising outsized financial returns and other benefits to carry out a scheme that helped fund Guo's extravagant lifestyle.

During Friday's hearing, Wang pleaded guilty to conspiring with Guo and others to fraudulently induce victims to send money through entities including Guo's GTV Media Group, Himalaya Farm Alliance and Himalaya Exchange from 2018 to 2023.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot)