A firm linked to former Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon was part of a $539 million deal to settle charges emanating from an alleged illegal stock offering scheme, the SEC said on Monday.
Three companies, all linked to eccentric exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, agreed to pay the massive half-a-billion-dollar settlement to resolve the allegations.
Bannon was listed as a director of one of the three firms, GTV Media Group, the Wall Street Journal reported last year, while company documents named Guo as an “adviser.”
Guo and Bannon are not parties to the SEC case, and are not mentioned by name in the SEC order resolving the case.
The agency said that two websites linked to the companies – GTV.org and Gnews.org – promoted illicit offerings of stock and digital currency. The companies have been accused of spewing herculean amounts of disinformation, including a supposed “dossier” that purported to document Hunter Biden’s ties to China during the 2020 election.
Guo has been living in exile in New York City since at least 2017, after using his social media presence to release a wave of accusations of corruption against the Chinese government. Guo and Bannon have spent part of the past year promoting a Chinese government-in-exile called the New Federal State of China, and held a rollickingly bizarre event in June for the event, which featured Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, and others.
But the past year has also seen Bannon indicted and arrested while aboard Guo’s yacht on charges relating to the We Build The Wall alleged fundraising scam. President Trump pardoned Bannon for those charges.
At the center of the media ecosystem that pushes Guo’s message out to millions of people is GTV, a Chinese news and social media platform operated by GTV Media Inc.
The SEC accused the firm of failing to register a share offering that took place between April and June 2020 with the SEC. The civil regulator said that two other firms – New York City-based Saraca Media and Arizona-based Voice of Guo – participated as well.
The SEC also charged GTV and Saraca with illegally offering an unregistered digital asset – in this case, that refers to GTV’s G-Coins and G-dollars.
The regulator cited a memo that touted GTV as ““the first ever platform which will combine the power of citizen journalism and social news with state-of-the-art technology, big data, artificial intelligence, block-chain technology and real-time interactive communication,” saying that it had planned on becoming “the only uncensored and independent bridge between China and the Western world.”
The SEC said in a statement that its investigation is continuing. The WSJ reported last year that the FBI was reviewing the offering.