The Messy Money Drama Behind Bannon and Guo Wengui's Propaganda Machine

www.thedailybeast.com
5 min read
fairly difficult
With the feds poking around, infighting plagues the strange anti-China network Bannon co-founded.
A wild fight has erupted within the sprawling finance and propaganda apparatus former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon co-founded with a fugitive Chinese billionaire.

The battle involves an organization Bannon inaugurated at the Statue of Liberty last year with Guo Wengui, a Chinese disinformation kingpin, and hostilities broke out even before the SEC this month charged companies linked to Guo with unregistered stock and cryptocurrency sales. But a federal probe into the dealings had been underway for months, and a key contention in a new lawsuit is that money intended to bankroll the duo's vision of a vast anti-Beijing network instead went toward paying back irate investors in illicit transactions.

Guo has long been a key financier of Trumpworld ventures, including the conservative social media app Gettr. When federal authorities charged Bannon last August with defrauding a nonprofit, they collared him on the deck of Guo's massive $28 million yacht. Former President Donald Trump eventually pardoned Bannon for any wrongdoing.

Neither Bannon nor Guo is a party in the lawsuit (just as neither was charged in the SEC order). Instead, the plaintiff is a mysterious entity called Mountains of Spices LLC, while the top defendant is Sara Lihong Wei Lafrenz, co-director of a nonprofit Bannon and Guo started in 2018. The amended complaint filed in Arizona federal court on Sept. 16 reveals the inner workings of the web of professed anti-Communist exiles Bannon and Guo aspired to organize against the Chinese regime, and in support of a shadow government under their control.

And it suggests the sprawling network is tearing itself apart.

Mountains of Spices, its name borrowed from the biblical Song of Solomon, is one of three companies incorporated at a residential address in the upscale New York City suburb of Great Neck, Long Island. All belong to Qidong Xia, who a person familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast is a close associate of Guo's. An attorney for…
William Bredderman
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