WASHINGTON -- Publisher John McGoff, insisting on his innocence and stopping short of a Supreme Court test, has consented to an order by the Securities and Exchange Commission prohibiting him from falsifying any filings with the agency.
The SEC, in court papers filed Wednesday, made public details of McGoff's purchase of the Sacramento Union newspaper in California and the increase in his other holdings made possible by an $11.3 million no-interest loan from South Africa.
The SEC obtained a permanent injunction from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia prohibiting McGoff and his Global Communications Corp. from falsifying any filings with the regulatory agency.
McGoff consented to the SEC order without admitting or denying guilt, avoiding a court battle and stopping far short of the Supreme Court test his attorney once vowed would result from the case.
'I continue to believe that all of my prior statements, editorial activity and reporting activity have presented a true picture of issues regarding the relations between our country and Southern Africa -- which is more than I can say for many of the newspapers in this country,' McGoff said in a statement issued by his Lansing, Mich., headquarters.
'All the decisions I have made as a publisher, editor and writer have been made based upon my own independent, best judgment as an American and not as a 'tool' or 'front' of any foreign person or government,' he continued.
'I agreed to settle this dispute because the lengthy investigation by the commission and the drawn-out nature of these proceedings has been extremely burdensome to me and my family both financially and personally.'
The SEC began investigating the publisher in 1979 after reports by the South African Judicial Commission that he had received $11.3 million from that government beginning in 1974. The South African government minister was accused of organizing a secret multimillion-dollar international propaganda campaign to improve South Africa's image abroad.
McGoff denied the allegations when they were first disclosed and fought the SEC's investigation at every turn.
In 1981 the Los Angeles Times reported there was evidence McGoff diverted a small portion of the South African funds to his own use for a swimming pool, boat and a house.
The SEC said the money was originally supposed to be used to purchase the Washington Star, which has since folded.
When the Star sale fell through in 1974, McGoff used $6 million in South African funds to purchase the Sacramento Union, the SEC said, and, according to other disclosures, bought a $1.3 million interest in UPITN, a television news agency then partly owned by United Press International.
Prior to its liquidation McGoff's Panax Corp. owned and operated more than 40 small daily and weekly newspapers in various parts of the United States. McGoff is also sole shareholder, chairman of the board and president of Global Communications Corp., which owns the Sacramento Publishing Co. and has assumed most of the former Panax properties.