Court freezes assets of financier accused of defrauding investors

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have won a court order freezing the assets of financier Danny Pang, whom they accuse of defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday the assets of Pang's two investment companies were also frozen. He was ordered to surrender his passports and bring back to the U.S. any assets sent overseas. Pang, a Taiwanese immigrant, founded a $4 billion international investment firm and moved in A-list social circles in Los Angeles. The SEC has accused Pang of bilking investors by falsely portraying returns as coming from investments in timeshare real estate and life insurance policies of seniors when in fact he ran a Ponzi scheme — using money raised from newer investors to pay earlier ones.

Pang's companies, Private Equity Management Group Inc. and Private Equity Management Group LLC, are based in Irvine, Calif.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles issued the asset freeze and appointed a receiver responsible for safeguarding assets held by Pang's firms.

Pang's attorney disputed the validity of the SEC move and said the agency sought the order Friday in federal court in Los Angeles without notifying his client, depriving him of a chance to respond.

"I'm troubled that the SEC sought to litigate this in secret," the attorney, David Schindler, said in a telephone interview. He said Pang is cooperating with the investigation.

In a civil lawsuit, the SEC alleged Pang and his companies have been engaged in the fraudulent offering of securities since 2003 or earlier, raising hundreds of millions of dollars from investors mostly living in Taiwan. In one case, investors were presented with a forged $108 million insurance policy to support a false claim that an investment was guaranteed, while the actual insurance policy was valued at $31 million.

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