Media companies linked to Guo Wengui pay $539m to settle SEC case

Financial fraud updates

Three media companies linked to Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman and prominent critic of the Chinese Communist party living in exile in the US, will pay more than $539m to US securities regulators to resolve allegations that they issued illegal securities to more than 5,000 investors.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Monday the civil action against GTV Media Group, Saraca Media Group and Voice of Guo Media for an alleged unlawful offering of GTV stock, the regulator said in a statement. GTV and Saraca were also accused of illegally issuing a digital asset security called G-Coins or G-Dollars. 

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

The companies, which have been linked to Guo in numerous US media reports, failed to register both offerings, from which they raised approximately $487m in total, the SEC said. They agreed to pay more than $539m to settle the claims without either admitting or denying the regulator’s findings.

Guo fled from China to the US in 2014, where he allied with demoralised overseas dissidents and China hawks, including Steve Bannon, the former White House adviser to Donald Trump.

Steve Bannon helped to launch GTV Media © AP

Bannon was listed as a director at GTV Media and was a central figure together with Guo behind the company’s launch, according to the Wall Street Journal

Last year, the former adviser was reportedly arrested on Guo’s yacht on fraud charges not linked to the Chinese businessman. He was later pardoned by Trump.

Guo was at the centre of Chinese political drama in 2017 when he publicly criticised the Chinese Communist party via social media, casting doubt on the integrity of Beijing’s anti-corruption purge, which was spearheaded by China’s vice-president Wang Qishan on behalf of Xi Jinping.

GTV could not immediately be reached for comment.

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