Bannon-Linked Media Firm Is Part of $539 Million SEC Case
(Bloomberg) -- A media firm linked to Steve Bannon and exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui was among companies that agreed to pay more than $539 million to settle a U.S. regulator’s claims that the businesses illegally sold shares.
GTV Media Group Inc., which has ties to Bannon and Guo, sold shares between April and and June 2020 without registering the offering, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a Monday statement. The SEC also accused Saraca Media Group Inc. and Voice of Guo Media Inc. of participating in the misconduct.
The companies separately conducted an unregistered sale of a digital asset security referred to as either G-Coins or G-Dollars, the SEC said. The two offerings raised approximately $487 million from more than 5,000 investors, including U.S. residents. Neither Bannon nor Guo were named in the SEC case, and the companies didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing.
“Issuers seeking to access the markets through a public securities offering must provide investors with the disclosures required under the federal securities laws,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, deputy director of the SEC’s enforcement division.
GTV and Saraca agreed to pay disgorgement and interest of about $450 million and each will pay a civil penalty of $15 million. Voice of Guo agreed to pay disgorgement and interest of about $54 million and a $5 million fine.
“GTV and Saraca are pleased to have reached this resolution, which achieves our goal of returning funds to our supporters,” a lawyer representing the companies said in an emailed statement. An attorney for Voice of Guo didn’t respond to a request for comment, nor did a spokesperson for Bannon.
The illegal sales were to help fund a news-focused social media platform that would be “the only uncensored and independent bridge between China and the Western world,” the SEC said in its order. The sales were promoted on YouTube and Twitter.
Bannon and Guo were two of the main people behind GTV’s launch last year, the Wall Street Journal reported in August 2020. A fundraising document listed Bannon as a corporate director, while Guo was the public face for raising money from investors, the Journal reported.
Bannon was on Guo’s yacht off the coast of Connecticut when U.S. authorities arrested the former top adviser to President Donald Trump, accusing him of conspiring to siphon hundreds of thousands of dollars from a campaign to finance a wall on the U.S.’s southern border. Trump pardoned Bannon in January just before leaving office.
Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, gained a reputation for alleging that high-level officials from China’s Communist Party engaged in political corruption. He relocated to the U.S. in 2015 and his assets in China and Hong Kong were frozen amid Chinese investigations into his finances.
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