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The chief of staff of an exiled Chinese businessman pleads guilty weeks before trial

NEW YORK — A Chinese businessman’s chief of staff is wanted by the government China pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges on Friday, weeks before her boss goes on trial in New York in a $1 billion fraud case.

Yvette Wang entered the plea in Manhattan federal court three weeks before she was scheduled to stand trial with Guo Wengui.

Guo has pleaded not guilty to defrauding hundreds of thousands of followers in the United States and around the world of over $1 billion.

At the sentencing scheduled for September 10th, Wang faces up to ten years in prison. Without the plea deal, she could have faced life in prison if convicted.

Wang, 45, spoke only English during her plea, dangling headphones provided by an interpreter beneath her ears as she described her crimes. She wore prison uniforms and shackles throughout the trial.

She admitted conspiring with Guo and others to commit wire fraud and money laundering from 2018 to March 2023 by providing false information to induce victims to send money through entities and organizations, including Guo’s media company GTV Media Group Inc. and its so-called Himalaya Farm Alliance and the Himalaya Exchange in exchange for stocks or cryptocurrency.

According to prosecutors, hundreds of thousands of investors were persuaded to invest more than $1 billion in companies controlled by Guo.

According to a charging document, on June 5, 2020, Wang approved a transfer of $100 million from GTV’s parent company, Saraca Media Group Inc., to a high-risk hedge fund for the benefit of Saraca and its ultimate beneficial owner, Guo’s son. Prosecutors said the $100 million was investor money obtained through fraudulent claims.

During her plea, Wang said she “knew what I did was wrong.”

She added: “I take full responsibility and I am very sorry for my actions, Your Honor.”

Guo was once considered one of the richest people in China. He left the country in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that entrapped people close to Guo, including a senior intelligence official.

Since then, he has been sought after by that country’s government and has relied on U.S. protection as Chinese authorities accuse him of rape, kidnapping, bribery and other crimes. He has long argued that those claims were false and said they were intended to punish him for publicly denouncing corruption and criticizing key Communist Party figures there.

While living as a refugee in New York, he became an outspoken critic of the ruling Communist Party and developed a close relationship with President Steve Bannon Donald Trumpis a former political strategist. Guo and Bannon announced in 2020 the creation of a joint initiative that they said was aimed at overthrowing the Chinese government

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