Attorney General James Secures Nearly Half a Billion Dollars to Resolve Illegal Stock and Cryptocurrency Sales
GTV Media Group and Saraca Media Group Unlawfully
Sold Stocks and Digital Instruments Without Registering in New York
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced she has secured a recovery of nearly half a billion dollars unlawfully obtained from investors who financially backed GTV Media Group, Inc. and its parent company, Saraca Media Group, Inc. The agreement signed with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) lays out how the two companies — tied to Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and, previously, to Steve Bannon, who briefly served as a non-executive director of GTV Media — unlawfully sold stocks and two digital instruments promoted as cryptocurrencies without registering in New York state, and forces the companies to pay $479.9 million to settle claims that they failed to register as securities dealers and/or commodities broker-dealers.
“No matter how powerful or how rich, companies in New York must follow the law,” said Attorney General James. “In a single year — as the nation faced a pandemic and a financial crisis — GTV Media and Saraca Media’s corporate greed led the companies to illegally take in nearly half a billion dollars from investors by cutting corners and failing to follow New York laws. Firms that want to sell stocks and digital currencies to New York investors or conduct business in New York must abide by the same regulations as everyone else. We secured a recovery of $480 million dollars and are forcing these companies to play by the rules because no company is above the law.”
GTV Media was founded in April 2020 and is majority-owned by Saraca Media. Both are New York-based media companies that operate Chinese-language news and social media platforms. Attorney General James’ investigation revealed that GTV Media conducted an offer and sale of its stock, beginning in April 2020, that raised hundreds of millions of dollars from over 1,200 investors, including from dozens of New Yorkers.
Simultaneously with the stock offering, in May 2020, GTV Media and Saraca Media conducted pre-sales of two digital instruments — G-Coin and G-Dollar — that were promoted as digital or cryptocurrencies. These pre-sales raised more than $30 million in additional money from purchasers.
Under New York’s Martin Act, GTV Media and Saraca Media were required to register as securities dealers and/or commodities broker-dealers in selling the stock and digital instruments, but failed to do so.
Under the agreement announced today, GTV Media and Saraca Media will get credit toward the $479.9 million settlement for payments that they make to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with that agency’s investigation. Money secured by this agreement will be placed in a fund to provide money back to harmed investors.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jonathan Bashi, Jesse Devine, Rita Burghardt McDonough, and former Volunteer Assistant Attorney General Dih-Lin Wong, with assistance from Legal Assistant Pascual Noble and former intern Deandra Denton — all of the Investor Protection Bureau and under the supervision of Acting Bureau Chief Scott J. Spiegelman, Acting Deputy Bureau Chief Shamiso Maswoswe, and former Bureau Chief Peter Pope. The Investor Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.