'Make Money Online' | U.S. newspaper boss in hot water over multi-million money laundering scam

U.S. newspaper boss in hot water over multi-million money laundering scam

The chief financial officer of the right-wing outlet The Epoch Times is facing serious legal trouble after being accused of orchestrating a multi-million dollar money-laundering scheme.

Weidong Guan, also known as Bill Guan, of Secaucus, New Jersey, has been charged by federal prosecutors in New York with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, he could face up to 80 years in prison.

The indictment, filed on June 3, alleges that Guan played a central role in moving at least $67 million in illicit funds through the media company's bank accounts.

Prosecutors claim that Guan and his team, operating under the department name "Make Money Online," used cryptocurrency to purchase tens of millions of dollars in crime proceeds.

Prepaid cards scheme

The alleged scheme involved exploiting prepaid debit cards, a common tactic in laundering cryptocurrency.

The Make Money Online team, based outside the U.S., is accused of purchasing prepaid cards loaded with funds obtained through bogus unemployment insurance claims.

They then reportedly traded these cards for cryptocurrency at a discounted rate, typically 70-80% of the card's value. According to the indictment, the team transferred these funds into accounts associated with The Epoch Times and Guan personally.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, stated: "As alleged, Bill Guan, the Chief Financial Officer of a global newspaper and media company, conspired 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."

Potential 80-year sentence

The charges against Guan come amid a reported surge in The Epoch Times' revenue, which, according to prosecutors, increased by 410% during the period of the alleged money-laundering activities, rising from $15 million to around $62 million annually.

Guan reportedly attributed this financial windfall to donations when questioned by bankers.

However, prosecutors highlight a potential discrepancy, noting that Guan wrote to a congressional office in 2022, claiming that donations represented "an insignificant portion of the overall revenue" for The Epoch Times.

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Guan has pleaded not guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of bank fraud. The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while each of the bank fraud charges carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.

The case, United States of America v. Weidong Guan, has been assigned to Judge Stewart Aaron and is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Unit, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Deininger, Rebecca Dell, and Jane Kim overseeing the prosecution.

This high-profile case underscores the ongoing commitment of federal authorities to crack down on financial fraud and protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system.

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