Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday night, days after a New York court ordered him to pay $134 million to a creditor for moving a yacht out of U.S. waters to prevent it from debt collection.
Guo, a real-estate developer also known as Miles Kwok, said he fled China in 2014 after learning a state security official linked to him was the subject of a corruption investigation. Beijing later said it was pursuing Guo on a slew of criminal charges, allegations the businessman has denied.
Guo has since lived in New York City and amassed a large following, particularly among Chinese Americans, by painting himself as a mega-rich dissident and freedom fighter who is trying to take down China’s ruling Communist Party. He had an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion in 2015, and the Fifth Avenue penthouse he lived in was worth $68 million.
The Chapter 11 filing indicates that Guo is seeking debt relief and to stop all collection efforts against him pending a reorganization of his finances. He declared that he now owned less than $100,000 of assets but owed dozens of creditors to the tune of $100 million to $500 million.
Guo said his debts came from “litigation expenses, claims and judgments,” and included a list of entities that were in legal disputes with him.
Guo has become an influential player in the conservative media world in the U.S. after he allied with Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump adviser. He is an investor and active user of Gettr, a pro-Trump Twitter alternative that claims to be free of “cancel culture.”
Guo’s popular video streams regularly lash out at not only Chinese officials but also other pro-democracy activists from China. He has been promoting false information about the pandemic and called COVID-19 vaccines part of a conspiracy concocted by the Chinese Communist Party.
A 2021 report by network analysis company Graphika found that Guo is at the center of a vast social media network which amplifies online disinformation and promotes real-world harassment campaigns participated by his fans. Guo denies encouraging anyone to participate in harassment.
Guo’s bankruptcy attorney, William Baldiga, did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
The 15-room Manhattan condo on the 18th floor in the Sherry-Netherland hotel, where Guo has lived for years, is now on sale for $45 million, about $23 million less than it was bought for in 2015.
Last week, a New York judge ruled that Guo arranged for a boat called the Lady May to leave New York waters for the Bahamas to shield it from debt collection. Guo, who has maintained he doesn’t own the yacht, was ordered to pay $134 million to a creditor.
Bannon was arrested on the same boat in 2020 on unrelated federal charges.
Last year, three media companies tied to Guo agreed to pay $539 million, without admitting wrongdoing, to settle charges that the companies illegally sold cryptocurrencies.