Six individuals charged with conspiring to act as illegal agents of the People's Republic of China


PRC officials directed multiyear campaign of harassment intended to coerce U.S. resident to return to the PRC

Date: October 20, 2022


An eight-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging a total of seven nationals of the People's Republic of China (PRC)—Quanzhong An, his daughter Guangyang An, Tian Peng, Chenghua Chen, Chunde Ming, Xuexin Hou, and Weidong Yuan—with participating in a scheme to cause the forced repatriation of a PRC national residing in the United States. The lead defendant, Quanzhong An, allegedly acted at the direction and under the control of various officials with the PRC's government's Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection (Provincial Commission)—including Peng, Chen, Ming, and Hou—to conduct surveillance of and engage in a campaign to harass and coerce a U.S. resident to return to the PRC as part of an international extralegal repatriation effort known as "Operation Fox Hunt."

Quanzhong An and Guangyang An were arrested this morning and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. The remaining defendants remain at large.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's National Security Division; and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the arrests and charges.

"As alleged, the defendants engaged in a unilateral and uncoordinated law enforcement action on U.S. soil on behalf of the government of the People's Republic of China, in an effort to cause the forced repatriation of a U.S. resident to China," stated United States Attorney Peace. "The United States will firmly counter such outrageous violations of national sovereignty and prosecute individuals who act as illegal agents of foreign states."

Mr. Peace thanked the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations for its work on the case.

"The victims in this case sought to flee an authoritarian government, leaving behind their lives and family, for a better life here. That same government sent agents to the United States to harass, threaten, and forcibly return them to the People's Republic of China. The actions we allege are illegal, and the FBI will not allow adversaries to break laws designed to protect our nation and our freedom," stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants participated in an international campaign to threaten and intimidate John Doe-1, a resident of United States, and his family to force John Doe-1 to return to the PRC. These efforts were part of "Operation Fox Hunt," an initiative by the PRC's Ministry of Public Security to locate and repatriate alleged fugitives who flee to foreign countries, including the United States. The PRC government has targeted these alleged fugitives and their families to compel cooperation with the PRC government and self-repatriation to the PRC. The PRC government has taken such law enforcement actions on U.S. soil in a unilateral manner without approval of, or coordination with, the U.S. government.

Quanzhong An, who is a businessman operating in Queens, New York, and the majority shareholder of a hotel in Flushing, acted as the primary U.S.-based liaison for the Provincial Commission's targeting of John Doe-1 and his family members, including his son, John Doe-2, both in the United States and in the PRC. As part of the scheme, various PRC based conspirators forced a relative in the PRC (John Doe-3) to travel from the PRC to the United States in September 2018 to meet with John Doe-2 and convey threats that were intended to coerce John Doe-1's return to the PRC. Yuan—John Doe-3's superior at the PRC's State Administration of Taxation—escorted John Doe-3 from the PRC to the United States, under the guise of a visit with a tour group.

On September 11, 2018, John Doe-2 met with John Doe-3 at a restaurant in Queens. In the recorded meeting, John Doe-3 explained that he had been forced to travel to the United States by the Provincial Commission, which wanted to repatriate the 100 most wanted fugitives, a group that purportedly includes John Doe-1. Yuan then joined John Doe-2 and John Doe-3 at the restaurant and indicated that he had been "tasked to relay the message" to John Doe-1 that the "leadership in China would like to encourage the elite overseas Chinese to return" and that the PRC government had already caused the repatriation of 80 of the 100 most wanted fugitives. Yuan explained that he had made "a special trip here," as John Doe-1's issue needed to be resolved "sooner or later," and John Doe-1 needed to return to the PRC.

PRC-based defendants and coconspirators also engaged in a pattern of harassment targeting John Doe-1's family members. In November 2017, Hou wrote John Doe-2 warning him that "coming back and turning yourself in is the only way out." Hou further threatened that "avoidance and wishful thinking will only result in severe legal punishments." The PRC government also harassed John Doe-1 and John Doe-2 through the filing of a lawsuit in New York State court, alleging that John Doe-1 had stolen funds from his former PRC based employer and that John Doe-2 had knowledge of and benefitted from his father's scheme.

In a series of recorded meetings in 2020, 2021, and 2022, Quanzhong An repeatedly met with John Doe-2 and attempted to persuade John Doe-2 to cause the return of John Doe-1 to the PRC. In these meetings, Quanzhong An acknowledged that he is a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which enforces the rules and regulations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) abroad. At various times, he attributed his instructions to Chen, Ming, and Peng and acknowledged that the Fox Hunt operation was motivated by the PRC government's need to "save their faces" and repatriate as many fugitives as possible.

In the meetings, Quanzhong An admitted that the civil lawsuit filed against John Doe-1 and John Doe-2 would be withdrawn if John Doe-1 returned to the PRC. He stated that "they are still suing you to place additional pressure on you" and "will keep pestering you through a lawsuit" because the cost of it "really is a drop in the bucket for a country to spend $1 billion or $0.8 billion to meet the political task assigned by the Central Government."

Quanzhong An admitted that he was acting as an agent of the Provincial Commission to increase his standing in the PRC. During his meetings with John Doe-2, Quanzhong An repeatedly transmitted threats on behalf of the PRC government. If John Doe-1 did not return, the PRC government would "keep pestering you, [and] make your daily life uncomfortable," in addition to actions to "target and monitor" John Doe-1's relatives in the PRC. On another occasion, he stated that "they will definitely find new ways to bother you" and "it is definitely true that all of your relatives will be involved."

As set forth in the detention memorandum, Quanzhong An met with John Doe-2 again on September 29, 2022. During this meeting, Quanzhong An pressed for John Doe-1 to execute an agreement to return to the PRC in advance of the CCP's 20th National Congress, which began on October 16, 2022. As part of such agreement, Quanzhong An sought a written confession from John Doe-1, which would be submitted directly to the PRC government.

As also alleged in the indictment, Quanzhong An and Guangyang An engaged in a money laundering scheme involving millions of dollars from the PRC to the U.S. financial system. As part of the scheme, the defendants and their coconspirators repeatedly lied to U.S. financial institutions to obscure the ownership and control of the funds. As a result of the money laundering charge, the government has charged forfeiture allegations against Quanzhong An's hotel in Flushing, New York, as well as the defendants' residences in Roslyn, New York.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of acting as agents of the PRC, Quanzhong An faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. The money laundering conspiracy charge against Quanzhong An and Guangyang An carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. The remaining charges, including conspiring to act as agents of the PRC and conspiring to commit interstate and international stalking, carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The government's case is being handled by the Office's National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Sara K. Winik, and Antoinette N. Rangel are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris of the Office's Asset Recovery Section is handling forfeiture matters.