DOJ Accuses Epoch Times CFO Of $67 Million Money Laundering Operation

3 mins read
Woman holding copy of The Epoch Times CFO
Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Weidong “Bill” Guan, The Epoch Times CFO, was apprehended and charged with orchestrating a complex scheme over several years to launder at least $67 million in illegal funds.

Overview of The Epoch Times CFO’s scheme

According to federal prosecutors, the “sprawling” operation that criminally used cryptocurrency, large quantities of prepaid debit cards, stolen personal information, and duplicitous acquired unemployment insurance benefits, which collectively contributed to a substantial increase in The Epoch Times’ annual revenue.

Weidong “Bill” Guan, aged 61, faces charges in the U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, including one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of bank fraud.

Epoch Times CFO’s arrest and initial court appearance

Guan was arrested on Sunday morning and pleaded not guilty the next day in Manhattan federal court.
He was let go on a $3 million personal recognizance bond, with travel restrictions limiting him to parts of New York and New Jersey, among other conditions.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams remarked that Guan “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.”

Williams added, “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.”

Details from The Epoch Times CFO’s indictment

Although The Epoch Times is not explicitly named in the indictment, Guan is listed as the CFO of Epoch Times on the nonprofit media company’s latest tax return filed in late 2023.

Prosecutors indicated that the money laundering scheme benefited “a multinational media company headquartered in Manhattan, New York,” which is where the Epoch Times is located.

The scheme allegedly led to the company’s revenue soaring from “approximately $15 million to approximately $62 million” between 2019 and 2020, according to prosecutors.

Publicly accessible IRS nonprofit tax returns for The Epoch Times show $15.5 million revenue in 2019, which surged to tax-exempt revenue of $62.7 million the next year.

Mechanics of the money laundering scheme

Guan managed the Epoch Times’ “Make Money Online team,” which executed the plan to buy “crime proceeds” and transfer them into bank accounts linked to the media company, the indictment states.

Over a four year period, his team is accused of purchasing millions in criminally acquired funds, like “fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits,” for 20 to 30% off under the cover of a cryptocurrency platform.

Once the funds were laundered through cryptocurrency, the funds were used to purchase tens of thousands of prepaid debit cards.

Guan’s team allegedly obtained stolen personal identification information to open bank and cryptocurrency accounts that were associated with The Epoch Times, where the balance of the prepaid debit cards were transferred to.

From there, the funds were frequently double-laundered again through additional bank and crypto currency accounts, including Guan’s own personal accounts.

The Secaucus, New Jersey, resident misled investigators concerning the origin of the funds when they began probing a 410% surge in the Epoch Times’ yearly revenue.

He reportedly attributed the increase in funds to “donations,” and subsequent to that, he “wrote a letter addressed to a congressional office falsely stating ‘donations’ constitute ‘an insignificant portion of the overall revenue’ of the media company.”

Last fall, NBC News documented an even more substantial increase in the Epoch Times’ revenue, showing a 685% rise over two years.

The outlet’s report tracked the publication’s transformation from an enigmatic outlet into a significant conservative force within a relatively brief period, to the extent that it channeled millions of dollars into Donald Trump’s unsuccessful 2020 re-election bid.

Legal implications for The Epoch Times CFO

The bank fraud charges each have a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while the conspiracy charge comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years.

The Department of Justice noted that the charges against Guan “do not relate to the Media Company’s newsgathering activities.”

A spokesperson for The Epoch Times told The Hill that the global organization, which operates in 36 countries, maintains “a guiding principle that elevates integrity in its dealings above everything else.”

“The company intends to and will fully cooperate with any investigation dealing with the allegations against Mr. Guan,” The Epoch Times said in a statement.

“In the interim, although Mr. Guan is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the company has suspended him until this matter is resolved.”

Background on The Epoch Times

The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by John Tang, who has connections to Falun Gong, an oppressed religious group in China.

The newsletter began out of resistance to the Chinese Communist Party and currently operates as a conservative news outlet that is headquartered in New York City.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog