John Wuo accused of ethics violations over USFIA ties
July 21st saw another Arcadia City Council meeting take place and with it, another barrage of criticism relating to the city’s real-estate issues.
Added to the mix was an update on the John Wuo USFIA situation, with comments from residents and finally response from Wuo himself.
Whereas David Arvizu was the only person to bring up the USFIA/GemCoin issue at the last City Council meeting, this time he was joined by resident Tim Burch.
After calling on Arcadia City Council members to hold themselves to a higher standard and bringing up specific local real-estate issues, Burch got stuck into Wuo about GemCoin.
[01:09:06] Mr. former Mayor, Councilman Wuo, I’m going to come back to you.
Last week this council was lambasted for its inaction and the perception by the former Mayor, over a sequence of bad votes.
Mr. former Mayor, Councilman, you were linked to a possible Ponzi scheme as has been reported in the press.
Yet you sat silent after hearing this from the public and didn’t even comment.
In the press you said you felt used.
Are you not an Honorary Chairman of the USFIA, the parent of GemCoin… and also part of the UCCA?
That’s a question.
Is not your real-estate business partner, Mr. Yang, also a Chairman of USFIA and thus a principal in GemCoin?
Isn’t USFIA’s sole-purpose to develop and sell amber, which is the backing reported for this?
Mr. Mayor, I think the public has a right to know. It’s not your choice, it’s your duty.
Hold yourself to a higher standard, answer these questions:
What is your relation to Mr. Yang and Mr. Chen?
What are your financial interests with these men?
How have you been compensated?
As a public official what is your financial disclosure, even if zero?
Hold yourself to a higher standard and answer these questions publicly. Thankyou.
Bursh was followed by David Arvizu, who proceeded to present to the meeting footage of Wuo’s various endorsements of USFIA and GemCoin, which he claims to know nothing about.
[01:13:02] Basically the Mayor, after denying he knew anything about GemCoin, is seen here at this conference endorsing it.
[01:14:27] Here’s where I have a problem.
City Council people, Mayors, should not be endorsing companies.
Especially ones that have been identified um, or suspected of being pyramid schemes.
Where they ask people to invest money and they really don’t ever see anything on the return, except for the initial investors.
Personally I think this is a violation of ethics. This is an ethics violation mixing politics with a pyramid scheme.
Arvizu closed his speaking time by asking Wuo to clarify how he introduced himself at USFIA events:
[01:15:49] When you go to these conferences and you ask people to invest money in these uh, investment schemes, do you refer to yourself as “Mayor Wuo” or “Major Wuo”… as in like a military rank, which would indicate some sort of military service of some sort.
Which would be inappropriate and disrespectful to the men and women of the armed forces who actually did serve.
So which is it, is it Major or Mayor?
I would ask that the City Council put this on their agenda and discuss this in public.
And the behavior of a City Councilman who involves his public office with investment schemes. And I would ask that they also admonish his inappropriate behavior.
Less than ten minutes later, Wuo had the mic and addressed David Arvizu directly.
[1:23:16] Last council meeting Mr. Arvizu accused me of three strikes… and uh I would like to respond to that.
The first one you said I had a real-estate broker license, and over the twelve years I’ve been serving on the city council, I have not involved myself in any, y’know, conflict of interest involvement with any of the development.
Wuo then passed the issue over the City Attorney, who clarified:
[1:24:06] The mere possession of a real-estate license does not create a conflict of interest, or cause the need to recuse oneself as a member of the legislative body from any and all decisions dealing with real property.
The City Attorney went on to claim he
had not been aware of any facts that have caused the conclusion that you, Council member Wuo, had a conflict of interest regarding decisions that come before the council regarding real property.
Earlier this month Wuo told the Arcadia Weekly he’d worked as a real-estate consultant with Steve Chen, President of USFIA, whom he’d ‘known for two years’.
Whether or not the City Attorney was aware of Wuo’s working with Steve Chen as a real-estate consultant in Arcadia is unclear.
Following input from the City Attorney, Wuo continued on to address “strike two”: A trip to China for City Council members paid for by real-estate developers.
[1:25:16] Initially I thought it was a good idea to take the city staff to uh, y’know, visit uh the different cultures.
And but uhh, because (of) uproar of the residents we cancelled the trip.
Wuo maintains the City of Arcadia never received any money from real-estate developers set to fund the trip, despite reports of City Officials having “voted unanimously to call off a planned trip to China and return $30,000 in donations”.
Wuo then called upon the City Manager to “clarify the situation”.
[01:26:02] You are correct the city never received any donations for the trip to China.
We didn’t receive any checks, we didn’t receive any funds into our accounts.
There were no funds to return related to the China trip.
Next up was “strike three”, Wuo’s involvement in USFIA and their GemCoin Ponzi scheme.
[01:26:33] In regards to the GemCoin and allegations, and which uh Mr. Bursch (sp?) and Mr. Arvizu continue to uh pound in on that…
Y’know when I first time was mayor I attended over 700 events, in the City of Arcadia or in San Gabriel Valley.
And I made a lot of ceremonial speeches and I always wish them success in their business.
I’m not gunna go up there and say “I wish your business fails”.
Wuo did not elaborate on his working with Steve Chen as a real-estate consultant for two years.
I don’t know anything about GemCoin and I don’t have any financial interest in there.
Mr. Avizu you accused me of having an offshore account.
I don’t even have a foreign account in a foreign country. And I don’t even know how to open an offshore… I don’t even know where to open it.
Whether Wuo was claiming to “not know” how to open an offshore bank account, in the same vein he “doesn’t know anything about GemCoin”, is unclear.
[01:27:23] So, I would like you to at least be responsible with your comments and not make unfounded allegations.
And GemCoin, I was invited to present awards to some of those winners.
The “winners” Wuo mentions are top USFIA GemCoin investors, being awarded novelty-sized BMW keys.
These prizes were gien as performance incentives for their recruiting of new USFIA investors.
I was there at one of the events which I was in (a) suit.
And then the other one was a news conference Mr. Chen invited me to say a few words.
And those are the ceremonial speech.
I don’t… I didn’t y’know, on those things… it’s just uh… uh regular ceremonial congratulatory speech.
And you kinda just y’know, exaggerate on it. And I can assure you that I don’t have any financial, I don’t have any investment in the company.
Yes, they made me the Honorary Chairman but many companies, many associations made me an Honorary Chairman.
But the thing is, we have a code we go by.
Wuo didn’t elaborate on the code he was referencing, nor whether his working for Steve Chen as a real-estate consultant violated it.
As he continued, Wuo then sounded positively angry as his remarks took on an undercurrent of persecution.
[01:28:29] And I know you’ve been surfing the internet and over the last six months… I mean is this what you have?
I know you try to find some dirt of me but I can assure you that I don’t have any financial interest, I don’t have any involvement with that company.
I, y’know, your accusations about them being a Ponzi – we don’t know that and you don’t know that.
And it’s not up to me to make a determination, it’s up to the state.
To look into it and see if they are doing the Ponzi.
And all I did was represent the city, At that time I was the Mayor.
I don’t even represent the city, I basically.. they announced I’m the Mayor, which many of us have been serving as Mayor before, and that was it.
[01:29:40] I can’t believe you accused me of these things which are totally unfounded.
I challenge you to show me if I have an offshore account or have an account in a foreign country.
So let’s focus on the issue we have in hand.
Wuo’s “challenge” comes with the full knowledge that Arcadia residents do not have access to any offshore financial interests he might have.
And call me cynical, but Wuo’s wording sounded awfully like someone comfortable in the knowledge they’ve already covered their tracks.
Speaking of covering tracks, the US China Consultation Association (UCCA) website was also pulled offline earlier this week:
UCCA are credited with owning USFIA, who in turn run the GemCoin Ponzi scheme:
As of yet no reason for the UCCA website going offline has surfaced.
I had also wanted to capture footage of Wuo handing out the BMW prize on stage. When I went to view the previously publicly accessible YouTube video however, I found it has since been marked private.
Hoping to put the issue of his involvement in USFIA and GemCoin to rest, Wuo made a plea to the residents of Arcadia:
[01:29:57] So please, let’s keep focus on the issues we have in hand. Okay?
Which is (to) continue doing the City’s business. And rather than doing the personal attack on me.
The next Arcadia City Council meeting is scheduled for August 4th.
Whether or not Wuo’s ties to USFIA and GemCoin are placed on the agenda for discussion, as per David Arvizu’s suggestion, remains to be seen.
Footnote: The City of Arcadia’s July 21st City Council meeting is viewable over on their website.
Relevant timestamps are [01:09:06] for Tim Burch, [01:13:02] for David Arvizu and [01:23:16] for John Wuo’s response.