Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
Chinese billionaire arrested in U.S. for $1B financial fraud
According to an announcement published by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Mar. 15, Chinese billonaire Ho Wan Kwok (aka Miles Guo and more commonly as Guo Wengui), has been arrested on a total of twelve charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. Among many items, the DOJ alleges that Kwok/Guo “fraudulently obtained” more than $262 million from victims through cryptocurrency platform Himalayan Exchange.
The Himalaya Exchange included assets such as Himalaya Dollar (HDO), a purported stablecoin, and Himalaya Coin (HCN), a purported trading coin. According to the indictment, Guo told investors that HCN was 20% backed by gold and that he would personally compensate investors for “100%” of trading losses.
“If anyone loses money, I can say that I will compensate 100%. I give you 100%. Whoever loses money, I will bear it.”
Guo launched both HCN and HDO coins in an initial coin offering (ICO) around Nov. 1, 2021, when HCN was trading at around $0.10 apiece. Two weeks later, the Himalaya Exchange website stated that each HCN was worth 27 HDO, or $27, and had a total market cap of $27 billion.
Between Sept. 2022 to Mar. 2023, U.S. Authorities subsequently seized $634 million in Guo’s alleged fraud proceeds, including $278 million from bank accounts held by Himalaya Exchange and related entities. At the time of publication, social accounts and Himalaya Exchange’s website appears to be still online and active.
Ho Wan Kwok/Guo Wengui promoting the purported benefits of the Himalaya Coin in 2021 (Youtube)
In another incident, Guo allegedly sold $452 million in common stock in an initial public offering (IPO) to over 5,500 investors for shares of GTV Media Group. The DOJ allege that in both incidents, the entreprenuer misappropriated a substantial portion of…