UPDATE, APRIL 13, 2023: The owner of Lady May may lose the yacht to the U.S. government. Court filings from April 7 declare her, along with cars, land, and millions in bank accounts, subject to forfeiture. If the court rules in the government’s favor, the Attorney General or a designee can seize the yacht and other assets. This in turn could eventually lead to the yacht being put up for auction.
Read on for our original article.
Ho Wan Kwok, the owner of Lady May, is under federal arrest for allegedly orchestrating more than $1 billion in fraud. Some of the money reportedly paid for upkeep of the superyacht.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the 12-count indictment and arrest on March 15. The counts include wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. Kwok, an exiled Chinese businessman residing in the United States, pleaded not guilty and agreed to be held in detention.
Kwok also goes by the names Guo Wengui and Miles Kwok. According to Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney, he “led a complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of over $1 billion.” Williams adds that the money helped purchase a mansion and a Ferrari, plus pay $2.3 million in maintenance for Lady May. Specifically, Kwok allegedly misappropriated the maintenance funds from investor loans to a program he organized called the Himalaya Farm Alliance. Kwok created a collective of informal groups—each a Farm—in cities around the world. Additionally, the indictment indicates, he promised investors the loan money would convert to stock in a media company that he owned. But, the indictment continues, Kwok purposely misrepresented the company’s market value.
Kwok became the owner of Lady May, a 152-foot (46.22-meter) Feadship, in 2018. He spent £28 million to acquire her (about $31.2 million presently).
This isn’t the first time he is facing legal troubles related to the yacht, however. In fact, in late 2020, he sent the yacht to the Bahamas, violating court orders to keep her in U.S. waters. He was charged with contempt of court and required to pay a fine or face jail time. In April 2022 he offered the yacht to a trust working on behalf of creditors for an unrelated loan he’d received more than a decade prior. Since the yacht was in France undergoing maintenance, though, he agreed to pay creditors $37 million.
The yacht herself has been at the center of further legal troubles. In August 2020 authorities arrested Steve Bannon onboard in Connecticut. Bannon was formerly a political strategist for President Donald Trump, plus is an associate of Kwok. It took place while Lady May was off the coast of Connecticut.
While Kwok’s actions as the owner of Lady May are allegedly criminal, the yacht is not under arrest.
Kwok’s next court appearance is April 4.