Talk about wild and woolly. The WSJ does a full-bore investigation of the head of an Irvine investment firm called Private Equity Management Group. Pang had billed himself as quite the success story: Taiwanese immigrant who earned an MBA, worked on Wall Street and now heads a $4 billion investment fund. But a former president of the firm says that Pang told him that part of the enterprise involved a Ponzi scheme. The executive also alleges that Pang improperly used some of investors' cash for the firm's benefit and once told him to deceive investors with a fake insurance policy. At a venture-capital firm where Pang worked earlier, the CEO says he fired Pang for stealing $3 million. Oh, and that was a few weeks after someone shot dead Pang's wife, a former stripper who had told police that Pang had threatened to kill her. (the murder remains unsolved). NY magazine is already calling it "the most insane alleged fraud of 2009," which when you think of it really takes some doing. It is worth noting that some of Pang's accusers are tied up in their own alleged misdeeds. Pang wouldn't talk to the Journal, but a spokesman described almost every allegation about him as a fabrication. Ohhhh-kay.
A local entrepreneur named Hiep Trinh says he met Mr. Pang and floated the idea of a fund that would buy life-insurance policies from elderly people and collect when they died. The two men and five others formed PEMGroup. "We started talking to [Mr. Pang] because we thought he had a lot of money," says Mr. Trinh. He says he later realized his new partner was in debt. He also says he was disturbed when Mr. Pang would make improbable claims about his wealth and falsely tell outsiders the partners knew each other from college. "He was a consummate liar," Mr. Trinh says. "He could lie about anything with a straight face."
Danny Pang was born Dec. 15, 1966, in Taiwan, where, according to people who know him, his mother's family was the wealthy owner of a furniture-making business. He came to the U.S. as a youth. Later, at the University of California, Irvine, he became a student leader, chairman of the Asian Pacific Student & Staff Association in 1988-89. University records, however, show a "Danny Pang" with his Social Security number and birth date enrolled only for a single summer term, in 1986, and don't show that anyone with his name or Social Security number ever received the degrees he lists. Asked how someone unenrolled could be a student leader, a university spokeswoman said, "He could just walk on campus, be Mr. Personality and get elected chairman. How would they know if he was a student?"
So who do you think the PEMGroup spokesman is? Right, it's the crisis manager to the stars, Mike Sitrick.