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Epoch Times CFO Faces $67M Crypto Fraud Charge

Bill Guan, the Epoch Times’ Chief Financial Officer, was arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) on charges related to money laundering and bank fraud schemes. Guan is accused of laundering $67 million through the use of cryptocurrency. The DoJ’s allegations do not pertain to the Epoch Times’ journalistic activities but focus only on financial misconduct linked to its “Make Money Online” team, which Guan allegedly managed from 2020 to May 2024.

Details of the Laundering Scheme

The charges state that under Guan’s oversight, team members used stolen identities to obtain tens of millions of dollars illegally. They reportedly got these funds from fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits and loaded them onto prepaid debit cards.

The indictment says they exchanged the money for an unspecified cryptocurrency at 70 to 80 cents on the dollar. They then transferred it into various personal and media-related bank accounts to hide its source.

Authorities discovered the scheme when Epoch Times’ annual revenue spiked by 410%, rising from $15 million to $62 million. Guan claimed this surge came from “donations,” prompting further investigation. The DoJ states that Guan misled banks with false statements, claiming the funds were legitimate donations whenever questioned about their origin.

Epoch Times CFO Faces Legal Action

The U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized the seriousness of the charges, noting that the money laundering accusation carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while the bank fraud charge could lead to up to 30 years. Williams stated,

Today’s charges reflect this Office’s ongoing commitment to vigorously enforcing the laws against those who facilitate fraud through money laundering and protecting the integrity of the U.S. financial system.”

Legal Consequences and Broader Implications

The case against Guan and Epoch Times shows the U.S. authorities’ efforts to catch those using crypto platforms for financial crimes. This indictment also raises financial officers’ awareness of their legal duties and the consequences of not following financial laws.

The Epoch Times, a Chinese-based newspaper that reports many instances of the Chinese government’s misconduct, has stated that there is no relation between the kind of journalism they practice and what has been accused of Guan; more specifically, Guan personally managed the finances involved in the case.

 Implications of a Major Crypto Laundering Case
Cases of  Money Laundering have significantly increased. On May 24, a London court sentenced a woman to prison for her role in laundering about 150 Bitcoins, currently valued at $10.4 million. The case, part of a larger operation seizing 61,000 BTC worth $4.22 billion, involved the woman laundering money for a Chinese mastermind from 2017 to 2022.

As the legal case progresses, the financial sector will closely monitor its impact on financial regulations, especially regarding cryptocurrency laundering. The outcome of this case could shape future regulations and how similar cases involving digital currencies and fraud are handled.

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