(WASHINGTON) — A former executive has claimed to the government that Donald Trump’s eponymous media company — which sources say is under federal investigation — committed “fraudulent misrepresentations” regarding possible mergers with two other firms as it sought to raise money.
The complaint from Will Wilkerson, a former executive at Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), alleges federal securities law violations were committed by TMTG and several company officials, as well as Benessere Capital Acquisition Corporation (BENE) and Digital World Acquisition Corporation (DWAC).
BENE and DWAC had been considered or are being used as investor vehicles to potentially take TMTG public, a move which would also ensure a reported $1 billion in further financing from other investors, should the deal close.
Wilkerson’s complaint, filed in August and obtained this weekend by ABC News, alleges “fraudulent misrepresentations concerning the attempted mergers between these companies [Trump’s firm, BENE and DWAC] in violation of federal securities laws.”
More specifically, Wilkerson claims in his complaint that DWAC and Trump’s media company “had substantive communications” about merging before DWAC was a public company itself, violating regulations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating Trump’s company, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Both agencies declined to comment to ABC News.
Neither of the SPACs named in the complaint immediately responded to requests for comment.
In a statement, TMTG’s legal team touted the company’s work so far — such as its launch on multiple platforms and its millions of users — while pushing back on what it described as “knowingly false and defamatory statements” in a Washington Post article on Saturday in which Wilkerson spoke about his whistleblower complaint and his time as a TMTG executive.
Wilkerson was fired last week as senior vice president of operations after the Post sent questions to Trump based on his account, the paper reported.
DWAC first acknowledged in December that the SEC was probing its merger with TMTG and was seeking related documents.
DWAC also indicated in June that it was aware of a federal grand jury investigation in the Southern District of New York.
The whistleblower complaint states that DWAC was substituted as the SPAC to merge with Trump’s company, TMTG, because a deal with BENE “could not sufficiently capitalize TMTG at a valuation that was acceptable to President Trump” and others involved.
BENE’s CEO would have also made “less money” than if the CEO used his other, newer SPAC, according to the complaint.
“For these reasons, the parties agreed to substitute BENE for DWAC” in a merger, the whistleblower complaint reads.
Wilkerson’s complaint was first reported last week by The Miami Herald. TMTG launched last year and is the umbrella company for Truth Social, the platform Trump uses since being banned by most major social media websites in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Wilkerson also claimed to The Post in its Saturday report that TMTG co-founder Andy Litinsky was booted from the board because he would not hand over shares of the company to the former president’s wife, former first lady Melania Trump, when Donald Trump asked him to do so.
The Post published a copy of an email that Wilkerson shared with them, apparently sent by Litinsky in March, in which Litinsky refers to Donald Trump’s alleged demand that he transfer his shares and his belief that being removed from the board was retaliation against him.
The Post reported that it was not known whether Litinsky ultimately relinquished his shares.
Speaking with the Post, Wilkerson attacked the leadership of TMTG CEO Devin Nunes, a former California lawmaker.
In its statement, TMTG defended Nunes, saying he was hired by Donald Trump “to create a culture of compliance and build a world-class team to lead Truth Social.”
The Post’s story was “rife with knowingly false and defamatory statements and other concocted psychodramas,” the company said. “We will consider republication of such statements to be legally-actionable evidence of reckless disregard for the truth.”
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