CITY HALL — An investigation launched in May by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office into the business practices of a local gold company has been expanded to include another more well-known company based in Santa Monica: Goldline International, city officials said.
Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky said his office has received over 100 complaints against Goldline International and Superior Gold Group.
The complaints, he said, fall into two categories. On one hand, some customers say they were misled into their purchases while others claimed that they received something different than what they originally ordered.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has joined the investigation, Radinsky said.
With strong public connections to Fox News television host Glenn Beck, Goldline International is by and large the more popular company under investigation.
As Goldline has come under legal and media scrutiny, Beck has stepped up and loudly defended the company, chalking up the naysaying to a government conspiracy to regulate the gold industry “until you won’t be able to buy gold anymore.”
Mark Albarian, CEO of Goldline International, defended the company’s ties with Beck, claiming that the show’s vast audience — not its political affiliation — is the real reason for the symbiotic relationship.
Radinsky, in an interview with ABC News, also insisted that Beck is hardly his concern.
“Our investigation is about transactions with individual customers and the complaints that they’ve raised,” he said. “It’s all about consumer protection for us.”
Accordingly, his office has set up a website to receive complaints about either Goldline International or Superior Gold Group.
Albarian decried the investigation’s manner of lumping the two companies together, believing that Goldline should be judged on its own, not in connection with the smaller SGG.
“We were also surprised that the City Attorney’s Office would refuse to discuss any allegations directly with Goldline but then choose to appear on national television regarding this matter,” said Albarian, in reference to Radinsky’s July 19 appearance on ABC’s “Nightline.”
Albarian said, at the moment, “the only information Goldline has is that the City Attorney’s Office does not know what direction the investigation will take.”
Albarian added that although his company processes 50,000 orders a year, he is only aware of two complaints against Goldline filed with the city of Santa Monica.
Since the case is still being investigated, Radinsky stated, “We are not discussing details of the investigation with the company or with the news media,” but that, as an exception, the appearance on ABC News simply “answered some background information.”
Albarian expressed concerns that actively encouraging people to file complaints through the new website is contrary to its own policies of requiring people to first try to resolve their problems with the Santa Monica business itself before filing a complaint.
Radinsky disagreed, saying that the website is intended to facilitate the filing of complaints by the companies’ former clients and in no way conflicts with their policies.
While Goldline International actually runs a physical headquarters on Cloverfield Boulevard in Santa Monica, to call SGG a “local” gold company is perhaps a misnomer.
Multiple former employees of SGG claimed that the company is not, in fact, based in Santa Monica, but rather in Woodland Hills.
One claimed that, when asked by clients about SGG’s location, employees were trained to say that they worked from a disclosed location, but that company offices were in Santa Monica.
The former employee asked to not be identified, citing concerns about being associated with the company. He said he left the company due to feelings about its “shadiness.”
He said that the Santa Monica office space is merely rented out in the event that a big-spending client wants to meet in person before initiating a transaction.
“Continuous phone calls months after you’ve promised [clients] their gold was uncomfortable,” he added. “Making a sale and then not being able to get the coins to them in a timely manner … just wasn’t right.”
The former employee admitted that he was motivated to come forward after recently being in touch with the company’s CEO, Bruce Sands.
“He was claiming he is now worth $50 million,” the employee said. “It does not seem right and ethical … to not help further this investigation.”
Officials from SGG could not be reached for comment.
To file a complaint about Goldline International or Superior Gold Group, visit www.smgov.net/departments/cpu.