Judge orders anonymous jury for trial of self-exiled Chinese businessman, citing his past acts

NEW YORK — A self-exiled Chinese businessman will appear before an anonymous jury at his trial next month on fraud charges after a judge on Wednesday cited his willingness to tamper with legal proceedings as a cause for concern.

Guo Wengui will be tried May 22 in Manhattan federal court, where jurors will be escorted in and out of the courthouse by U.S. marshals, according to an order from Judge Analisa Torres.

Guo’s lawyers agreed that the jury should be anonymous, saying in court papers that “protective measures are justified by the actions and potential actions” of the Chinese Communist Party, “which has not hesitated to use all means at its disposal use stand to attack. ‘, the judge noted in her written decision.

She also said attorneys pushed back against prosecutors’ claims that an anonymous jury was necessary because Guo has used his organization to harass and threaten critics, and because of his “extensive obstructionist behavior” and substantial media attention.

“From our perspective, this would be appropriate because of the actions and potential actions that the Chinese Communist Party could take,” attorney Sid Kamaraju said of an anonymous jury in an interview, repeating what the defense claimed in court filings.

Torres said she previously discovered that Guo was willing to tamper with legal proceedings when he posted videos and posts on social media encouraging followers to “persevere” with protests at the homes and offices of a trustee and his attorney, resulting in threats and threats. harassment against the trustee and his employees.

The judge also said she chose not to address Guo’s lawyers’ concerns about the Chinese Communist Party targeting their client because prosecutors’ rationale was sufficient to order an anonymous jury.

Arrested in March 2022, Guo has pleaded not guilty to charges including bank and securities fraud after prosecutors alleged he defrauded thousands of investors with too-good-to-be-true offers that promised outsized profits for investors in his media company, GTV Media. Group Inc., its so-called Himalaya Farm Alliance, G’CLUBS and the Himalaya Exchange.

Prosecutors allege he used the proceeds of a five-year fraud scheme that began in 2018 to purchase extravagant goods and assets for himself and his family, including a 50,000-square-foot mansion, a $3.5 million Ferrari, two mattresses of $36,000 and a $37 million luxury home. hunt. However, his lawyers say he is broke.

In court filings, lawyers have criticized the government’s theory that Guo was motivated by greed. Jurors would be entitled to conclude that his actions stemmed from “the continued threat of death” as a result of political beliefs.

They wrote that Guo “wouldn’t give up those beliefs for a piano or luxury suits, especially if he could buy those things for himself without risking the movement.”

Guo was once considered one of the richest people in China before he left in 2014 during a crackdown on corruption that ensnared people close to him, including a top intelligence official. Chinese authorities have charged Guo with rape, kidnapping, bribery and other crimes.

Guo has said these accusations are false and were intended to punish him for publicly calling out corruption and criticizing leading figures in the Communist Party. Prosecutors, who had previously listed Guo in court filings as “Ho Wan Kwok,” changed his name to Miles Guo on Wednesday, saying it was the name he is best known by.