Bannon-Allied Chinese Tycoon files for bankruptcy
Steve Bannon greets Guo Wengui during a press conference in November 2018 in New York. Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images
Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday night, days after a New York court ordered him to pay $134 million to a creditor for moving a yacht out of US waters for prevent him from recovering his debt.
Guo, a property developer also known as Miles Kwok, said he fled China in 2014 after learning that a state security official linked to him was being investigated for corruption . Beijing later said it was pursuing Guo on a series of criminal charges, allegations the businessman denied.
Guo has since lived in New York and garnered a large following, especially among Chinese Americans, by portraying himself as a mega-rich dissident and freedom fighter trying to overthrow China’s ruling Communist Party. . He had a estimated net worth $1.1 billion in 2015, and the Fifth Avenue penthouse he lived in was worth $68 million.
Chapter 11 deposit indicates that Guo is seeking debt relief and ceasing all collection efforts against him pending a reorganization of his finances. He said he now had less than $100,000 in assets but owed dozens of creditors to the tune of $100 million to $500 million.
Guo said his debts came from “litigation costs, claims and judgments,” and included a list of entities that were in dispute with him.
Guo became an influential player in the conservative media world in the United States after allying himself with Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump. He is a investor and active user of Gettra pro-Trump Twitter alternative that claims to be free of “cancel culture”.
Guo’s popular video feeds routinely go after not only Chinese officials, but also other pro-democracy activists from China. He promoted false information about the pandemic and called COVID-19 vaccines part of a plot concocted by the Chinese Communist Party.
A 2021 report by network analytics firm Graphika found that Guo is at the center of a vast social media network that amplifies online misinformation and promotes real-world harassment campaigns involving his fans. Guo denies encouraging anyone to participate in the harassment.
Guo’s bankruptcy attorney, William Baldiga, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 15-bedroom Manhattan condo on the 18th floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, where Guo lived for years, is now on sale for $45 millionabout $23 million less than in 2015.
Last week, a New York judge ruled that Guo arranged for a boat called Lady May to leave New York waters for the Bahamas to protect him from debt collection. Guo, who has maintained that he does not own the yachtwas ordered to pay $134 million to a creditor.
Bannon was arrested on the same boat in 2020 on unrelated federal charges.
Last year, three media companies linked to Guo agreed to pay $539 millionwithout admitting wrongdoing, to settle accusations that the companies illegally sold cryptocurrencies.