• Market Cap: $1,678,034,397,457.48
  • 24h Vol: $96,078,364,628.55
  • BTC Dominance: 50.47%

Chinese billionaire’s $1B fraud charges, Kwon’s $11M bet, Zhu Su and Islam: Asia Express

Published: Friday, 17th March, 2023 - 00:17

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

Chinese billionaire arrested in U.S. for $1B financial fraud 

According to an announcement published by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Mar. 15, Chinese billonaire Ho Wan Kwok (aka Miles Guo and more commonly as Guo Wengui), has been arrested on a total of twelve charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. Among many items, the DOJ alleges that Kwok/Guo “fraudulently obtained” more than $262 million from victims through cryptocurrency platform Himalayan Exchange.

The Himalaya Exchange included assets such as Himalaya Dollar (HDO), a purported stablecoin, and Himalaya Coin (HCN), a purported trading coin. According to the indictment, Guo told investors that HCN was 20% backed by gold and that he would personally compensate investors for “100%” of trading losses.

“If anyone loses money, I can say that I will compensate 100%. I give you 100%. Whoever loses money, I will bear it.”

Guo launched both HCN and HDO coins in an initial coin offering (ICO) around Nov. 1, 2021, when HCN was trading at around $0.10 apiece. Two weeks later, the Himalaya Exchange website stated that each HCN was worth 27 HDO, or $27, and had a total market cap of $27 billion.

Between Sept. 2022 to Mar. 2023, U.S. Authorities subsequently seized $634 million in Guo’s alleged fraud proceeds, including $278 million from bank accounts held by Himalaya Exchange and related entities.At the time of publication, social accounts and Himalaya Exchange’s website appears to be still online and active.

Ho Wan Kwok/Guo Wengui promoting the purported benefits of the Himalaya Coin in 2021 (Youtube)

In another incident, Guo allegedly sold $452 million in common stock in an initial public offering (IPO)to over 5,500 investors for shares of GTV Media Group. The DOJ allege that in both incidents, the entreprenuer misappropriated a substantial portion of investors’ funds and will seek forfeiture for the seized assets. Back in 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission took enforcement action against three of his companies with unregistered ICOs and IPOs. At the time, the firms agreed to pay $486.6 million in fines, prejudgment interest of $17.6 million, and a civil penalty of $35 million combined.

The billionaire is reportedly a close-friend of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Rising to prominence through real-estate and construction in China, he fled the country in 2014 after receiving information of his imminent arrest on charges of bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape. He has since lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S., sought asylum, and is a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC). However, several documents used by Guo to critique the CPC have been alleged to be forged. An Interpol red notice for his arrest has been reportedly active since 2017.

To defeat communism buy my coin

For the Chinese billionaire, “taking down the CCP” is a goal that neatly lines up with the promotion of crypto. In 2020, Guo founded the political movement “New Federal State of China” (NFSC) with the stated aim of overthrowing the CCP alongside the non-profit organization Himalaya Supervisory, which is related to the aforementioned cryptocurrency exchange.

Aside from educating viewers on the evils of communism, Guo also used official NFSC and Himalaya Supervisory branding to shill his followers about the purported benefits of his HDO and HCN coins:

“Himalaya Coin will crush Bitcoin in the snap of a finger if a certain country grants Himalaya Reserve or Himalaya Coin a visual banking license and a virtual banking exchange.”

In another “lecture” dated shortly before his arrest, Guo explained to viewers that the “U.S. and Communist China are fighting over the power to establish blockchain standards that will govern all digital currencies,” but the major takeaway is that the NFSC will be the one to emerge victorious in the struggle:

“In the end, people will have to use digital U.S. dollars, and then, the U.S. will be in charge of setting up the future blockchain standards. However, the U.S. has encountered a rival called the CCP. So when these two tigers are fighting, we [the NFSC] will end up being the winner.”

Guo claims to have invested $100 million into the NFSC movement. However, the source of funds is reportedly under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Chinese billionaire was arrested on Mar. 15 in New York and shortly afterward, his luxury apartment in Manhattan caught fire. It is not clear if the two incidents are related.

Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui explaining to followers how the NFSC will be the ultimate winner in a global battle between the U.S. and CCP for blockchain supremacy. (Youtube)
Guo explaining to followers, shortly before his arrest, how the NFSC will be the ultimate winner in a global battle between the U.S. and CCP for blockchain supremacy. (Youtube)

Do Kwon officially loses once highly publicized LUNC bet

In March 2022, South Korean Terraform Labs CEO and co-founder Do Kwon accepted two bets from cryptocurrency traders GiganticRebirth (GCR) and Algod, totaling $11 million, wagering that the price of Terra Luna (LUNC) would not be lower than $92.4 and $88 per token, respectively, by March 13, 2023. The bets resulted in a $22 million prize money pool, held in escrow by blockchain personality Cobie.

After LUNC’s price plummeted to near-zero in May 2022 as part of the $40 billion Terra Luna ecosystem collapse, Cobie paid out the bets, purchasing LUNC as a hedge in case its price recovered. However, Cobie’s hedge was reportedly lost when cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy in Nov. 2022, freezing over one million creditors’ assets and nine million users’ deposits. The current status of the funds remains unclear.

This post first appeared on: Cointelegraph

Author: Zhiyuan Sun
Tags in this article
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram