Epoch Times CFO Indicted in $67 Million Money Laundering Plot

WASHINGTON – The chief financial officer of news channel Epoch Times has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a massive money laundering scheme.

Federal prosecutors allege that Bill Guan, 61, took part in a global plot to launder at least $67 million (£52 million) in illicit money for the benefit of himself and the Epoch Times.

According to the indictment, Guan led the outlet’s “Make Money Online” team, which used cryptocurrency to buy tens of millions in crime proceeds.

Guan has not yet entered a plea. If convicted, he could spend more than 30 years in prison.

In a statement on Monday evening, the Epoch Times told the BBC that it “intends and will cooperate fully with any investigation into the allegations against Guan.”

“Although Guan is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the company has suspended him until this matter is resolved,” the news outlet said.

It did not respond to specific questions about the Make Money Online team referred to by prosecutors.

Guan could not be reached by the BBC.

In the 12-page indictment, federal prosecutors detailed the alleged scheme, which they say began around 2020.

The plot, according to prosecutors, was simple: Members of the Make Money Online (MMO) team would buy crime proceeds through cryptocurrency at a discount and transfer those proceeds to bank accounts of entities linked to the newspaper.

The illicit proceeds would eventually be funneled back into Epoch Times accounts through “tens of thousands of layered transactions,” including via prepaid debit cards and financial accounts opened using stolen identification information.

According to the indictment, the scheme worked for years to enrich the Epoch Times, pumping tens of millions of dollars into the newspaper.

Coinciding with the time Guan came up with the alleged scheme, the outlet’s internal accounting showed annual sales increasing by about 410% – from $15 million in 2019 to about $62 million the following year.

When banks asked Guan where the cash flow came from, he lied and claimed the money came from “donations,” prosecutors said.

Guan has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of bank fraud.

Prosecutors noted that these charges “do not relate to the newsgathering activities of the Media Company (the Epoch Times”).

Founded in 2000, the Epoch Times started as a small, low-budget newspaper distributed for free in New York.

It was founded by Chinese-Americans affiliated with a religious group called Falun Gong.

In the years since, it has become reportedly one of the most powerful conservative news organizations in the US and a home to conspiracy theories, right-wing disinformation and strident opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. – BBC