Fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui hold a news conference on November 20, 2018 in New York, on the death of of tycoon Wang Jian in France on July 3, 2018. – Guo was introduced by Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist.
Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged three media companies linked to wealthy Chinese exile Guo Wengui with conducting illegal securities offerings.
The companies — New York City-based GTV Media Group and Saraca Media Group as well as Phoenix, Arizona-based Voice of Guo Media — agreed to settle for more than $539 million, according to the SEC.
The SEC charged GTV, Saraca and Voice of Guo with conducting an illegal unregistered offering of GTV’s common stock. GTV and Saraca were also charged with an illegal unregistered offering of a digital asset security called G-Coins or G-Dollars.
The companies raised $487 million from more than 5,000 investors from the two securities offerings, according to the SEC.
GTV Media also reportedly has links to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the SEC was looking into fundraising tactics by the company and noted at the time that Bannon was a company director.
Bannon and Guo have been close for years. The former advisor to President Donald Trump was arrested on Guo’s yacht and was charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors through his “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Bannon pleaded not guilty and was later pardoned by Trump.
The SEC press release does not mention Guo or Bannon by name.
Guo, his associates and some of the same companies were sued by investors in a class-action lawsuit earlier this year for allegedly breaking securities laws. Bannon is not mentioned in the lawsuit.
As for the settlement with the SEC, the Guo-linked companies did not admit or deny any of the commission’s findings. Instead, the SEC says the businesses agreed to a detailed settlement.
“GTV and Saraca agreed to a cease-and-desist order, to pay disgorgement of over $434 million plus prejudgment interest of approximately $16 million on a joint and several basis, and to each pay a civil penalty of $15 million,” according to the SEC’s press release.
“Voice of Guo agreed to a cease-and-desist order, to pay disgorgement of more than $52 million plus prejudgment interest of nearly $2 million, and to pay a civil penalty of $5 million,” the SEC release said. “The order establishes a Fair Fund to return monies to injured investors.”