March 16, 2023 | 5:25 p.m
Authorities are investigating whether a mysterious fire at the lavish Manhattan apartment of Chinese billionaire and accused fraudster Guo Wengui was started remotely, sources told The Post on Thursday.
Guo, a controversial figure whose real name is Ho Wan Kwok, also had a luxury 18th-floor apartment overlooking Central Park that was wired to record his visitors, the sources said.
“It was fully wired,” the source said of Guo’s luxury suite at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue. “Everything that happened there, especially in the solarium, was recorded. Every word.
“The fire was probably not started by a person in space. It’s kind of remote-activated and the whole apartment is wired.”
The fire broke out Wednesday while FBI agents were still searching for him after accusing Guo of running a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme and fueling his lavish lifestyle with the proceeds.
The sources said the flames destroyed “the beautiful wood-panelled library – there used to be a bar”.
It’s unclear what method may have been used to start the blaze remotely, but the FBI and FDNY are investigating.
Guo, a Chinese exile and friend of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, is accused of running a lucrative fraud scheme and using the ill-gotten gains to buy a $26.5 million New Jersey mansion, a $37 million yacht and to spend money on $36,000 mattresses and a $140,000 piano, according to federal prosecutors.
The controversial billionaire built a huge online following after launching two nonprofits in 2018 critical of the Chinese Communist Party, the feds said.
Guo and his alleged co-conspirator Qin Ming then set up several businesses, including a loan company, a media group and a members-only club, then siphoned more than $1 billion from followers, prosecutors said.
He is said to have hosted the likes of Tony Blair in the spacious flat, sources said.
It was Blair who wrote the letter of introduction that brought Guo into a higher social circle.
“Nobody knew him and he definitely wasn’t going in without that letter,” the source said. “It gave him a lot of reputation that he might not have had without that letter.”
Guo also has business and political ties to Bannon, a former top adviser to former President Donald Trump. Bannon was even arrested on Guo’s yacht in 2022 for his alleged role in a scheme to defraud investors over a plan to privately build a border wall between the US and Mexico.
In 2020, Guo and Bannon founded a political group with the goal of overthrowing the ruling communist government in China. The group made headlines when planes dropped banners bearing their insignia over the New York skyline.
He bought the Manhattan penthouse for $67.5 million in 2015, according to property records.
Guo was indicted on 12 counts in an alleged fraud scheme in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.