The DOJ has indicted an Epoch Times executive for money laundering

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A once small newspaper founded by Chinese dissidents that became a prominent right-wing media outlet that trafficked in conspiracy theories in recent years is now facing accusations that one of its top officers was engaged in a criminal money laundering scheme.

The chief financial officer for the Epoch Times was charged Monday with laundering at least $67 million in illegally obtained funds. After the alleged scheme began in 2020, The Epoch Times’ revenue jumped exponentially from almost $15.5 million the year before to over $70 million, according to federal tax filings.

Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York allege Weidong Guan, also known as Bill Guan, 61, led an initiative that used a cryptocurrency platform to buy prepaid debit cards at a discount that had been loaded up with illicit funds, including from fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits.

Participants in the scheme allegedly used stolen identities to open additional financial accounts which they then used to transfer the funds to bank accounts associated with the media company, and were sometimes laundered through Guan’s personal accounts and other company accounts, according to prosecutors.

Guan “conspired with others to benefit himself, the media company, and its affiliates by laundering tens of millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits and other crime proceeds,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a media release.

“When banks raised questions about the funds, Guan allegedly lied repeatedly and falsely claimed that the funds came from legitimate donations to the media company,” Williams said.

Guan pleaded not guilty and was in custody on Monday night facing a $3 million bail package, according to The New York Times.

In a statement to NPR, an Epoch Times spokesperson said the newspaper “has a guiding principle that elevates integrity in its dealings above everything else” and intends to fully cooperate with the investigation against Guan.

“In the interim, although Mr. Guan is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the company has suspended him until this matter is resolved,” the statement reads.

The Epoch Times has ties to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual movement, and was founded in 2000 to counter Chinese Communist Party propaganda. The media company now operates in 35 countries and in 22 languages according to its website.

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