DOJ: Right-Wing Epoch Times Was Running Money Laundering Op

The newspaper that’s converted more people to conspiracy theories than any other outlet might be in deep doo-doo. The Epoch Times, a formerly free newspaper distributed on the streets of New York that focuses on conspiracist, right-wing takes and reports that are extremely critical of the Chinese Communist Party, successfully expanded its operation on YouTube and Facebook, reaching millions of Americans with pro-Trump clickbait and batshit crazy misinformation. According to the Justice Department, it also functioned as a massive money-laundering scheme for one of its executives. Via New York magazine:

On Monday, federal prosecutors in New York charged the Epoch Times’ chief financial officer, Bill Guan, with conspiracy to commit money laundering for allegedly moving at least $67 million in illegally obtained funds to bank accounts in the media outlet’s name. According to the indictment, Guan was in charge of something (rather suspiciously) called the “Make Money Online” team, in which Guan and underlings “used cryptocurrency to knowingly purchase tens of millions of dollars in crime proceeds.” The alleged scheme was fairly simple, relying on prepaid debit cards, which are a common method in crypto laundering. The Make Money Online team, based abroad, would allegedly purchase “proceeds of fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits” loaded onto prepaid cards. The team then allegedly traded them for cryptocurrency at 70 to 80 percent of the cards’ actual value. After making the deal, the Feds claim that those funds would then be transferred into bank accounts associated with the Epoch Times as well as into Guan’s personal bank accounts.

It appears that the Make Money Online team lived up to its name. The Feds say that at the same time that Guan allegedly concocted the money-laundering scheme, the Epoch Times’ annual revenue shot up 410 percent, from $15 million to around $62 million. Its bankers naturally had questions, but Guan said that the windfall came from donations, per the indictment. (Unfortunately for him, he also wrote to a congressional office in 2022, stating that donations are “an insignificant portion of the overall revenue” of the Epoch Times.) Guan has not yet entered a plea, and prosecutors note that the “charges do not relate to the Media Company’s newsgathering activities.”

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