Danny Pang (Chinese: 彭日成; pinyin: Péng Rìchéng), (December 15, 1966 – September 12, 2009) was a Taiwanese-American private equity manager, who ran the Private Equity Management Group, Inc. and Private Equity Management, LLC (PEMGroup) which claimed to manage $4 billion. The funds were invested mainly on behalf of Taiwanese investors, in American securities, timeshare properties, and insurance policies. He was arrested by the FBI on April 28, 2009 for structuring cash transactions to avoid a $10,000 reporting threshold, which has a maximum ten-year prison sentence. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a civil suit alleges the he ran a Ponzi scheme and misreported his background to investors, by claiming that he had been a vice-president at Morgan Stanley and had an MBA degree from the University of California at Irvine. The SEC announced on April 27 that it had obtained a freeze on the assets of Pang and his two firms, as well as an order to turn in his passports. His former partner, Nasar Aboubakare, has also claimed in a lawsuit that the firm was a Ponzi scheme. Pang was confined to his house on bail. His criminal trial had been delayed until August 18, 2010. He died on September 12, 2009 at a Newport Beach, California, hospital.
Pang was born in Taiwan where he attended the prestigious Lih Jen International Private Elementary and Middle School. He moved to the U.S. as a teenager, becoming a citizen in 1990. He last lived in Newport Beach and previously lived in Villa Park, also in Orange County. His father currently lives in the Villa Park house.
In 1986 he attended the University of California, Irvine during the summer session. According to the Wall Street Journal, he became a student leader at the university, being elected chairman of the Asian Pacific Student & Staff Association in 1988-89, despite not being enrolled at the time. In 1997 he left a senior position at a venture capital firm, amid accusations of a $3 million theft from an escrow account.
Later in 1997, his wife, ex-stripper Janie Louise Pang, was murdered in the Villa Park house, possibly by a contract killer, after she took steps toward a divorce. A lawyer who had worked for Danny Pang was arrested for the murder, but his trial resulted in a hung jury. Pang was on a business trip during the murder, but invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid testifying at the trial. At the trial, the defense presented a police and Federal Bureau of Investigation memo suggesting that Pang had ties to Taiwanese organized crime. Pang said he had no ties to his wife's murder or to organized crime ties. He later remarried.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Pang died at a Newport Beach hospital on September 12, 2009. Police reported that they received a report of a dead body near Pang's home at 3:41 pm, on September 11, 2009. Paramedics took him to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, where he was in the cardiac care unit. He died at 5:12 the next morning. Police crime scene investigators removed 4 to 5 small bags of evidence from Pang's home, according to neighbors. On the 12th, police stated "We're not sure who made the call. We don't know the cause of death. The coroner will be looking into that as well. This will be treated as a death investigation."
An autopsy conducted on September 13 by the Orange County Coroner ruled out foul play as the cause of death. His death was ruled a suicide in January 2010 based on the the toxicology report, which revealed blood levels of both oxycodone and hydrocodone each multiples of the toxic level, as well dozens of undigested pills in his stomach.
His family issued a statement saying "Danny was a wonderful husband, loving father, and honest businessman. For the past five months, Danny was subjected to a relentless attack of innuendo and false allegations, and was denied any opportunity to defend himself."
About 16,000 Taiwanese investors invested more than $700 million with PEMGroup. The securities were sold to them by Taiwanese banks including Standard Chartered (about $221 million, according to Taiwanese government sources), Hua Nan ($205 million), Bank SinoPac ($146 million), Taichung Bank ($70 million), EnTie Bank ($52 million) and Cosmos Bank ($48 million).
According to the SEC civil suit, PEMGroup offered unregistered securities starting in 2003, promising returns of 5.25% to 7%. The money was supposed to be invested in timeshare properties, and in the purchase of life insurance policies from the elderly. The insurance policies would pay PEMGroup if the covered individuals died. The SEC claims that the returns on the insurance policies were not high enough so that the firm paid with money accepted from new investors, starting a Ponzi scheme.
Following the April 15, 2009 publication of articles on Pang in The Wall Street Journal, Pang stepped down from his position as CEO of PEMGroup, pending an internal investigation. The newspaper continued with a series on Pang, which included articles alleging improper accounting of PEMGroup funds, and allegations of improper use of funds to buy Costa Rican real estate.
The firm is now operating under a court appointed receiver. The receiver reported in a Federal court filing on May 7, 2009 that the firm was used as Pang's "personal piggy-bank" and that investors are currently owed principal of about $823 million, with the firm's assets worth between $213-426 million. Improper use of investor's funds may have included the purchase of several jets, a $1 million Disney cruise for employees, $6.9 million in undocumented loans to Pang, and $9.8 million in transfers to firms controlled by Pang.
In August 2009, the receiver took control of 15 additional entities deemed to be PEMGroup affiliates. These affiliates were controlled by a Taiwanese woman believed to be Pang's girlfriend. U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ruled based on photographs that "strongly suggest their relationship transcended that of a normal business relationship."
Pang was confined to his house, on $1 million bail.