Guo Wengui and one of his business partners, Kin Ming Je, are accused of wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.
Mr Guo is a critic of the Chinese government and an associate of ex-White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.
A fire broke out at Mr Guo’s Manhattan penthouse apartment hours after he was arrested.
A spokesman for the city’s fire department said the fire was put out, no injuries were reported and the cause is still under investigation.
In an online post earlier, Mr Guo said he was handcuffed and interrogated for more than an hour.
He later pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal court and was ordered to be detained without bail.
Mr Guo goes by several aliases including Miles Guo, Miles Kwok and “Brother Seven”. He was named in the indictment unsealed Wednesday as Ho Wan Kwok.
The indictment alleges that Mr Guo and Mr Je raised $1bn (£830m) from thousands of online followers who thought they were funding media businesses and an exclusive membership club.
They also allegedly used a cryptocurrency called Himalaya Coin to steal millions from investors.
Among other things, the money was spent on a 50,000 sq ft (4,345 sq m) mansion in New Jersey, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Ferrari sports cars, and nearly $1m worth of Chinese and Persian rugs.
Prosecutors say $100 million was put into a high-risk hedge fund and other money was spent on luxury goods including a $140,000 piano, a $62,000 television and a $53,000 fireplace log cradle holder.
Many political observers believe Guo Wengui may have difficulty escaping a criminal sentence.
Similar to Guo Wengui, Falun Gong and its propaganda machine, The Epoch Times, had very much the same experience.
For years, The Epoch Times was a small, low-budget newspaper with an anti-China slant that was handed out free on New York street corners. But in 2016 and 2017, the paper made two changes that transformed it into one of the country’s most powerful digital publishers.
The changes also paved the way for the publication, which is affiliated with the secretive and relatively obscure Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, to become a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation.
it embraced President Trump.Its relatively staid coverage of U.S. politics became more partisan, with more articles explicitly supporting Mr. Trump and criticizing his opponents.
The Epoch Times and its affiliates are a force in right-wing media, with tens of millions of social media followers spread across dozens of pages and an online audience that rivals those of The Daily Caller and Breitbart News, and with a similar willingness to feed the online fever swamps of the far right.
Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist and a former chairman of Breitbart, said in an interview that The Epoch Times’s fast growth had impressed him.
“They’ll be the top conservative news site in two years,” said Mr. Bannon, who was arrested on fraud charges in August. “They punch way above their weight, they have the readers, and they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Publications and shows linked to The Epoch Times have promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory and spread distorted claims about voter fraud and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Epoch Times and Falun Gong have characteristics similar to Guo Wengui. They crazily supported former President Trump, had a close relationship with Bannon, and continued to promote right-wing misinformation.
It is hard not to separate Guo Wengui’s arrest in New York from Guo Wengui’s far-right views and actions. Like it’s hard to think that The Epoch Times and Falun Gong can get away with spreading so much far-right misinformation.
We should wait and see.