Epoch Times CFO Arrested in Alleged $67 Million Money Laundering Scheme

News / Epoch Times CFO Arrested in Alleged Money Laundering Scheme

Federal prosecutors have arrested Bill Guan, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Epoch Times, over his alleged involvement in a massive money laundering operation. The scheme is said to have laundered at least $67 million in illegal cash, benefiting both Guan and the news outlet.

Allegations and Indictment

According to the indictment, Bill Guan, 61, spearheaded the Epoch Times' "Make Money Online" (MMO) team, which utilized cryptocurrency to purchase crime proceeds worth tens of millions of dollars. The federal prosecutors allege that the scheme began around 2020 and involved a complex network of transactions designed to obscure the origins of the illegal funds.

Scheme Details:

  • The MMO team purchased crime proceeds via cryptocurrency at a discount.
  • These proceeds were transferred into bank accounts held by entities affiliated with the Epoch Times.
  • The illegal funds were then moved back into the Epoch Times accounts through "tens of thousands of layered transactions," including prepaid debit cards and financial accounts opened using stolen identification information.

Financial Impact

The indictment reveals that the scheme significantly enriched the Epoch Times. The outlet's internal accounting showed a dramatic increase in annual revenue, ballooning by approximately 410% from $15 million in 2019 to roughly $62 million in 2020. When questioned by banks about the sudden surge in funds, Guan allegedly lied, claiming the money came from "donations."

Legal Consequences

Bill Guan faces serious charges, including one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and two counts of bank fraud. If convicted, he could spend more than 30 years in prison. As of now, Guan has not entered a plea.

Epoch Times' Response

In a statement released on Monday evening, the Epoch Times told the BBC that it "intends to and will fully cooperate with any investigation dealing with the allegations against Mr. Guan." The news outlet emphasized that Guan is "innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" but has suspended him until the matter is resolved. The Epoch Times did not respond to specific questions about the MMO team referenced by prosecutors.

Historical Context

Founded in 2000, the Epoch Times began as a small, low-budget newspaper distributed for free in New York. It was started by Chinese Americans affiliated with a religious group called Falun Gong. Over the years, the outlet has grown into one of the United States' most influential conservative news organizations, known for its opposition to the Chinese Communist Party and its dissemination of right-wing misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Conclusion

Federal prosecutors have clarified that the charges against Guan do not relate to the Epoch Times' newsgathering activities. This distinction aims to separate the alleged financial misconduct from the journalistic operations of the news outlet.

The arrest of Bill Guan marks a significant development in the ongoing investigation into the alleged money-laundering scheme. As the legal process unfolds, the Epoch Times has pledged full cooperation with authorities while maintaining Guan's presumption of innocence. The case highlights the complex interplay between financial operations and journalistic integrity, raising questions about the broader implications for the news outlet.

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