SANTA ANA, Calif. - Danny Pang, an Orange County financier who was the subject of a fraud investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, has died.
The Orange County coroner's office says the 42-year-old Pang died Saturday at a hospital, one day after after being taken from his Newport Beach home by paramedics.
The cause of death is unknown.
Pang pleaded not guilty in July to federal charges of evading currency reporting laws. The case had initially been set to go to trial next week, but was delayed until next year.
In a separate case, Pang was accused of cheating investors and running his Irvine company, Private Equity Management Group, like a Ponzi scheme.
Pang, a Taiwanese immigrant, is accused of bilking investors in his $4 billion firm by falsely portraying returns as coming from investments in timeshare real estate and life insurance policies of seniors. Prosecutors said he 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. Charles Sipkins, a spokesperson for the Pang family told CNBC,?? ??"Our entire family is shocked and saddened by Danny's sudden and tragic passing. Danny was a wonderful husband, loving father, and honest businessman. For the past 5 months, Danny was subjected to a relentless attack of innuendo and false allegations, and was denied any opportunity to defend himself. It is distressing that Danny had to endure such a mean-spirited assault on his character and reputation, and the seizure of all his property, without ever having been found liable of anything and without ever having a chance to defend himself. We remain steadfast in our belief that Danny would have been vindicated if he had been given that opportunity. In this time of mourning, we ask that our privacy and feelings of grief be respected."?? ?? ?
The Securities and Exchange Commission froze Pang's assets in April, ordered him to surrender his passports and bring back to the U.S. any assets he had sent overseas. He stepped aside as chairman and chief executive officer.
Pang was arrested days later by the FBI on charges of gradually withdrawing about $360,000 from a company account so he wouldn't have to report the transactions to regulators.
Robert P. Mosier, a court-appointed received in charge of Pang's companies, said in court documents that Pang managed his investments as a "personal piggy bank" to fund a lavish lifestyle, including spending $35 million on a fleet of jets, $1 million on a cruise for employees and $1.5 million on a China vacation for his staff.
In a separate civil lawsuit, the SEC alleged Pang and his companies have been engaged in the fraudulent offering of securities for at least five years, 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, according to the SEC.
Pang first appeared in the news when his wife, 33-year-old former topless dancer Janie Louise Pang, was shot and killed in their home in 1997.
Pang's attorney, Hugh "Randy" McDonald, was charged with the killing but his jury could not reach a verdict and prosecutors did not attempt to try him again. An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday.
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