George Santos has in recent months become an outspoken supporter of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who was arrested in March and is accused by prosecutors of leading a “complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of over $1 billion dollars.”
The House Republican was himself arrested last month and charged with 13 counts, including money laundering, wire fraud and the misuse of public funds, all of which he denies. Santos was released after three unidentified individuals agreed to pay his $500,000 bond, with Business Insider reporting there is a “very strong chance” one of the three is Wengui.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered Santos to name those who co-signed his bond, though his attorney said the New Yorker would rather “surrender to pretrial detainment” than provide this information.
Wengui, who has denied any wrongdoing, is a fierce critic of China’s ruling communist party, and a close political and business partner of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump‘s former White House chief strategist. The self-exiled business tycoon founded the New Federal State of China in 2020, a group dedicated to regime change in Beijing, which presents itself as an anti-communist Chinese government in exile.
Bannon was arrested on a yacht owned by Wengui in August 2020 and later charged with money laundering, conspiracy and a scheme to defraud, and he pled not guilty. Prosecutors claimed Bannon siphoned off over $1 million for his own gain from a fundraiser, raising money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, though he later received a presidential pardon from Trump just hours before he left office in January 2021.
On May 4, less than two months after Wengui’s arrest, Santos tweeted his support for the business tycoon, using a different one of the business mogul’s names.
He commented: “Miles Guo has been detained since March 15 without bail? The #CCP corruption runs deep.” Santos added the hashtags “#StopTheCCP” (Chinese Communist Party) and “#FreeMilesGuo.”
Two CCP officers were arrested in NYC for operating an illegal CCP police station and let go the same day. (Out the door goes the “flight risk”excuse)
Miles Guo has been detained since March 15 without bail?
— George Santos (@Santos4Congress) May 4, 2023
Two days later, Santos posted a 10-second video message calling for Wengui to be released, adding: “The corruption of the CCP runs deeper than the eye can see.
“We must stop them NOW at ALL costs. Let’s Start by freeing Miles Guo.”
According to Business Insider, a week after Santos was arrested a number of people who “appeared to be affiliated with the New Federal State of China” waited for him outside the court, including one person who “appeared to wear a pin with the movement’s logo.”
Santos later suggested, without providing evidence, that his arrest was connected to his support for Wengui, commenting: “I asked questions about #MilesGuo & the DOJ indicts me 5 days later! The fight is real & I’m OVER the target, I need your support to keep me fighting for freedom.”
The New York Republican’s fierce advocacy for Wengui led Business Insider to conclude there is “a very strong chance” that the Chinese billionaire paid his jail bond “directly or indirectly,” though this hasn’t been proven.
Santos has refused to say who paid his bond, telling reporters “that is information you’ll never get because your intention is to go harass them and make their life miserable.”
Newsweek has contacted George Santos and Guo Wengui for comment by email, in the latter case via the New Federal State of China.
Santos shot to prominence in November 2022 when he flipped New York’s third congressional district, beating Democratic candidate Robert Zimmerman.
It later emerged the Republican had fabricated much of his resume, including his educational and employment history, and his claim to be a descendent of Holocaust survivors.
Santos is continuing to insist he will stand again for Congress in 2024 despite his indictment, and he is requesting donations from supporters.