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A media company linked to former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon and a Chinese billionaire has reached a $539 million settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over an initial coin offering (ICO) in which it sold digital asset securities without first registering with the SEC.

In connection with the illegal stock offering, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged GTV Media Group, Saraca Media Group of New York, and Voice of Guo Media Inc. of Arizona. GTV and Saraca were also accused of conducting an unauthorized initial coin offering (ICO) in which they sold G-Coins or G-Dollars without first registering with the agency.

The SEC stated in its ruling that the entities recruited thousands of investors for a GTV stock offering and a digital asset sale from April to June 2020. According to investigators, they disseminated information about their items using their websites and social media channels like Twitter and YouTube.

The three companies reportedly raised $487 million from at least 5,000 investors, some of whom were from the United States, through the two offerings. The firms promised investors that the money would be used to establish the world’s sole unfiltered and independent bridge connecting China and the West.

The GTV Media Group was founded in 2020 and had close ties to Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist for the first seven months of his presidency. Former leader of right-wing media organization Breitbart News, the controversial former Hollywood producer, is also a controversial former Hollywood producer.

Guo Wengui, commonly known as Miles Guo, a Chinese millionaire, has a close relationship with GTV. Guo escaped to the United States in 2014 after learning that the Chinese government was pursuing him on claims of corruption, bribery, money laundering, rape, and other crimes. Since then, he has been one of President Xi Jinping’s most vehement detractors.

Since their inception, Guo’s media sites have been criticized for releasing false information, which is directed towards the Chinese government. The coronavirus, for example, was allegedly created in a Chinese facility as part of the country’s biological weapons arsenal, but it slipped.

Without admitting or contesting the claims, the media corporations agreed to settle with the SEC. GTV and Saraca agreed to pay a $434 million disgorgement plus $16 million in prejudgment interest. In addition, each must pay a civil penalty of $15 million. The company agreed to pay $52 million in disgorgement, $2 million in prejudgment interest, and a $5 million civil penalty.

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