Media Companies Linked to Chinese Exile to Return Millions to Investors in SEC Settlement

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Sept. 13 charged three U.S.-based media companies over illegal unregistered offerings of stocks and digital assets.

The companies—New York-based GTV Media Group and Saraca Media Group, and Phoenix-based Voice of Guo Media—are affiliated with Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire living in exile in the United States.

The three firms agreed to pay more than $539 million to settle, without admitting to or denying the SEC’s findings, the U.S. regulator stated in a statement. The SEC did not mention Guo by name.

From April to June 2020, the three media solicited individuals to invest in the GTV stock offering, while GTV and Saraca also marketed the sale of a digital asset security they dubbed “G-Coins” or “G-Dollars.” The firms promoted their two security offerings through GTV and Saraca’s websites, as well as on social media platforms including YouTube and Twitter.

The three media did not register with the SEC for their security offerings, the statement said.

“Thousands of investors purchased GTV stock, G-Coins, and G-Dollars based on the respondents’ solicitation of the general public with limited disclosures,” said Richard Best, director of the SEC’s New York regional office, according to the statement.

The SEC found that the three firms raised about $487 million through the two offerings from more than 5,000 investors.

“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 statement.

Meanwhile, Voice of Guo agreed to pay a civil penalty of $5 million, on top of $52 million in disgorgement plus prejudgement interest of close to $2 million, according to the SEC.

Also on Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she had secured the recovery of $479.9 million from GTV and Saraca for failing to abide by state laws when selling stocks and digital currencies to dozens of New York investors, according to a statement from her office.

The monetary relief was part of the $539 million the SEC announced.

According to the attorney general, Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist during the Trump administration, briefly served as a non-executive director at GTV. The attorney general’s office did not accuse Bannon or Guo of any wrongdoing.

Bannon was arrested last year over accusations that he defrauded donors in a campaign to fund a private wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. He pleaded not guilty and called the charges a “political hit job.” He was later pardoned by former President Donald Trump.

Guo, who also goes by the name Miles Guo, fled China in 2014 and is known for his connections to retired Chinese regime officials, particularly those associated with former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. He has since accused the Jiang family of amassing wealth by embezzling Chinese funds.

A lawyer for GTV and Saraca, in a statement to the Financial Times, said that the two media companies are “pleased to have reached this resolution, which achieves our goal of returning funds to our supporters—an objective we have had since these regulatory matters commenced.”

Guo, in a post published on his Gettr account, said he has “accepted the SEC fine” and added that working with the SEC had been a “success.”

From The Epoch Times