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Why the arrest of a Trump-loving Chinese billionaire should worry the GOP

Guo Wengui, an associate of Steve Bannon's who is charged with fraud and money laundering, has supported conservatives' antidemocratic efforts in the U.S.


It’s about time the American public became more familiar with right-wing billionaire Guo Wengui, a fugitive wanted by the Chinese government who’s been known to back American conservatives’ antidemocratic efforts. 

To the extent the exiled tycoon is known to the public, it’s largely because he’s a business associate of conservative media provocateur Steve Bannon’s. In 2020, Bannon was arrested on Guo’s yacht off Connecticut and federally charged with fraud. NBC News reported at the time that federal investigators had been sniffing around GTV Media Group, a company linked to both men. (For the unaware: GTV is known to spread pro-Trump propaganda, including a conspiracy theory about President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as misinformation about Covid-19.)

Last week, Guo was arrested in New York on federal charges of fraud and money laundering, stemming in part from his alleged role in redirecting $100 million invested in GTV to a high-risk hedge fund for the benefit of GTV’s parent company — owned by a close relative of Guo’s. (Guo has pleaded not guilty.)

Mother Jones has been among the most dogged outlets to report on Guo and his ties to right-wing extremists in the U.S. On Friday, the outlet published a thorough write-up on Bannon’s relationship with Guo and GTV, which you can read here. (Bannon, who has not been charged with any crimes related to Guo, did not respond to requests for comment from NBC News and Mother Jones.)

Last summer, Mother Jones also published this helpful write-up on Guo’s support for efforts to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. 

But Guo’s investment in right-wing causes goes deeper than that. Last Friday, The Verge reported that federal officers seized about $2.7 million from the decidedly pro-Trump platform Gettr, which is popular among conservative extremists.

According to The Verge

Guo, an exiled Chinese dissident living in Manhattan, is a prominent Trump supporter and friend to Steve Bannon. A 2021 Daily Beast report revealed that Guo was an original investor in Gettr, where he touts nearly 900,000 followers as of publication. Jason Miller, a longtime Trump adviser and former Gettr CEO, downplayed Guo’s role at the company at the time. In the indictment, prosecutors allege that Guo manipulated his online audience into investing millions into cryptocurrency and anti-CCP media scams.

Guo’s indictment calls into question the extent of his influence over the conservative-friendly social network Gettr. As part of the Justice Department’s investigation, authorities seized a total of $634 million from 21 different bank accounts last September. Around $2.7 million of that money was held in a Gettr account, according to the indictment.

Questions abound, such as: Where else in the conservative media ecosystem could have gotten some of Guo’s money? Given his deep pockets, one has to wonder whether there are other beneficiaries. If so, who? And why?

Let’s hope the feds find out.