Watchdog group files IRS complaint against Epoch Times Network

The government watchdog organization Accountable.US filed an IRS complaint against the Epoch Public Foundation and the Epoch Times Assn., the nonprofit groups affiliated with the right wing media outlet the Epoch Times.

The complaint, sent to the IRS last week, requests an investigation into “potentially false or fraudulent information” made on the nonprofit’s tax returns for the fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

Earlier this month, Weidong “Bill” Guan, the chief financial officer of the Epoch Times, was arrested and charged in what federal prosecutors called a “sprawling, transnational scheme” to launder at least $67 million in illicit funds.

Guan used cryptocurrency to purchase tens of millions of dollars in crime proceeds, including prepaid debit cards, fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits and stolen personal information that was used to spike the Epoch Times’ reported annual revenue, according to the indictment, handed down last month.

The scheme began in 2020, when the Epoch Times’ “Make Money Online” team led by Guan purchased “crime proceeds” and transferred them to accounts associated with the media company, the indictment stated. Federal prosecutors alleged that the funds increased company’s revenue 410% in a single year to $62 million.

Guan deposited $16.7 million of the proceeds into his personal accounts, according to the Justice Department, but did not report this income on his tax filings.

A grand jury indicted Guan with one count of money laundering and two counts of bank fraud.

Following his arrest, the Epoch Times released a statement on its website saying that it has suspended Guan “until this matter is resolved,” adding that, the “company intends to and will fully cooperate with any investigation dealing with the allegations against Mr. Guan.

Accountable is a progressive nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that monitors the financial transactions of right wing groups. Its complaint cites “several apparent inconsistencies and reporting errors” in the Epoch Public Foundation and the Epoch Times Assn.’s tax filings.

“The discrepancies and apparent reporting errors in EPF’s and ETA’s Form 990s for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 are cause for concern as they occurred while Weidong ‘Bill’ Guan … was allegedly engaged in a money laundering scheme related to his business ventures, according to federal prosecutors,” states their letter to the IRS.

A representative of Epoch Times could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by Chinese Americans affiliated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement that is banned in China. Headquartered in New York, the newspaper began as a small, free giveaway focused on criticizing the Chinese Communist Party.

The media outlet has since become a forceful presence among conservative news organizations, known for spreading conspiracy theories, particularly on social media, and as a staunch supporter of former President Trump and his allies.

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