John P. McGoff, the conservative Michigan newspaper publisher who tried unsuccessfully to buy The Washington Star in 1974 with money secretly lent to him by the Republic of South Africa, was cited yesterday by the Securities and Exchange Commission for filing false and misleading statements. McGoff consented to an injunction against further violation of securities laws without admitting or denying guilt.
The complaint alleges that McGoff and his wholly owned holding company, Global Communications Corp., entered into an arrangement with South Africa in 1973 to buy certain newspapers in the United States and other parts of the world. The alleged purpose was to gain influence in the media for that government's views.
During 1974-'75, the South African government provided over $11.3 million to McGoff and Global in the form of an interest-free loan through a Swiss bank. Global stock formed the collateral.
South Africa allegedly put up $10 million to buy The Washington Star in 1974-'75, but McGoff lost out to a higher bid made by Texas financier Joe L. Allbritton. Subsequently, McGoff purchased the Sacramento Union for $6 million and later a half interest in UPI-TN, a London-based international television news service.
Furthermore, the SEC complaint says, McGoff and others began to acquire stock in Panax Corp. Prior to Panax's liquidation in 1981, the Michigan company owned 40 small newspapers throughout the country. McGoff and Global eventually acquired 18 percent of Panax's stock without notifying the SEC within the required time, the complaint says.
McGoff and Global also failed to disclose pertinent information to Panax stockholders, such as the fact that the government of South Africa was behind a joint venture Panax had formed with a South African corporation, Xanap. The SEC said McGoff failed to reveal that Xanap's managing director was a South African government agent. Panax lost more than $500,000 in the deal.
McGoff could not be reached for comment yesterday.