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Epoch Times CFO charged with $67m crypto money laundering scheme

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Bill Guan, the chief financial officer of The Epoch Times, a far-right international media company, is accused of taking part in a multi-million crypto laundering scheme.

U.S. federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment on Jun. 3, charging Weidong “Bill” Guan, the chief financial officer of The Epoch Times, with taking part in a transnational scheme to launder $67 million in illicit funds via crypto.

In a press release, federal prosecutors say that Guan — who was arrested on Monday — conspired with others to participate in a transnational scheme to launder $67 million of illegally obtained funds to bank accounts in the names of the media company and related entities.

The scheme involved a group dubbed the “Make Money Online” (MMO) team, which, under Guan’s direction, allegedly used crypto to launder crime proceeds. These included funds obtained from fraudulent unemployment insurance claims, often bought at significantly discounted rates on a specific crypto platform.

“The crime proceeds were generally purchased by the scheme participants, including members of the MMO Team and others working with them, using a particular cryptocurrency platform, at discounted rates of approximately 70 to 80 cents per dollar, and in exchange for cryptocurrency.”

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that 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.”

The U.S. Department of Justice notes that around the same time the money laundering scheme began, the Media Company’s internal financial accounting reflected an “increased annual revenue over the previous year of approximately 410% — from approximately $15 million to approximately $62 million.”

Guan faces one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, carrying a potential 20-year prison sentence, and two counts of bank fraud, each punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The Department of Justice clarified that the charges are directed at Guan’s actions and not the operations of The Epoch Times itself.

Founded in 2000, The Epoch Times is a media company formed to counter Chinese Communist Party propaganda. The media company operates in dozens of countries and in over 20 languages.

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