(PresidentialHill.com)- The penthouse of a Chinese billionaire caught fire as the FBI conducted a raid, according to The Daily Mail. The federal agency claims that Guo Wengui defrauded thousands of his online social media followers when he boasted about “money-making opportunities” in what authorities say was a classic pyramid scheme.
Authorities are unsure if the fire was connected to the raid or if a booby trap was triggered to destroy evidence of his alleged crimes, which total 12 counts of fraud. Wengui was a close associate of Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s chief strategist.
The money from the scheme was reportedly spent on a mansion and other luxury items, including a 50,000-square-foot property in New Jersey, a Lamborghini, and a yacht. He also purchased Chinese and Persian rugs that cost nearly $1 million and two mattresses that totaled $72,000.
The penthouse, situated above The Sherry Netherland hotel, is located in New York City overlooking Central Park with a terrace wrapped around the floor to the north, south, and west. The home encompassed all of the 18th floor and consisted of six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and several entertainment rooms.
Wengui, who reportedly purchased the home for nearly $70 million in 2015, had access to the hotel’s services as well. But the legendary penthouse that once housed Diana Ross, Francis Ford Coppola, and David Bowie, was once again up for sale in February 2022 for $32.5 million after Wengui filed for bankruptcy when a construction contract lawsuit resulted in a $254 million fine. The Chinese billionaire now claims that his assets are less than $100,000.
Since the allegations of fraud came out, authorities seized his luxury items, including his Bugatti Veyron worth $4.4 million. Over $630 million found in 21 bank accounts was also seized.
With other unnamed accomplices, Wengui managed to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars by promising to multiply his followers’ initial investments.