Fact check: Claim of Chinese investment in Dominion Voting Systems confuses UBS subsidiaries

Chelsey Cox
USA TODAY

The claim: China invested $400 million in Dominion Voting Systems

A Dec. 7 Facebook post states Dominion Voting Systems — a voting machine and software company whose technology is used by dozens of states and municipalities and that has been under attack by conservatives since Election Day — has ties to China, based on a recent financial transaction.

"China invested 400M in Dominion on October 8, 2020. Need I go on?" user Mark Landeene posted.

His is one of many unfounded claims against the company, tied to voting fraud conspiracy theories and levied by supporters of President Donald Trump. In response, attorneys representing Dominion Voting Systems have issued notices of litigation to far-right wing media company Newsmax, Rudy Giuliani and others on defamation claims, USA TODAY reported.

Proof of foreign influence in the company is easily accessible, regardless of denials, according to Landeene.

"There are public records for that day on all exchange transactions. Go to Google, type in China purchase of 400M stock of Dominion. The original filing with the SEC was October 5th, and transaction closed 10/7," Landeene told USA TODAY.

There is documentation of a recent exchange of securities with Dominion Voting, but by an American company with an almost identical name to a Chinese company. There was no foreign investment.

More:Dominion says it may sue over election conspiracy theories

A claim from the far-right wing

On Dec. 1, Infowars, a far-right-wing news and opinion website, posted an article about an investigation — it does not state by whom — that revealed Dominion Voting received $400 million "from a Swiss bank with close ties to the Chinese government" in October.

"The investigation centers on Staple Street Capital, which acquired Dominion Voting Systems in 2018," the article says.

Staple Street Capital III L.P., a private equity firm based in New York, acquired Dominion Voting Systems in July 2018, according to a company press release.

Infowars stated that Swiss-owned bank UBS Securities is the Sales Compensation Recipient on a Securities and Exchange Commission Form D filed by Staple Street on Oct. 8.

More:Fact check: Hugo Chávez's family does not own Dominion Voting Systems

"UBS Securities is a Swiss investment bank which owns 24.99% of UBS Securities Co LTD, a Chinese Investment Bank. The remaining 75% of UBS Securities CO LTD is owned by the Chinese government,” according to Infowars. The article goes on to name alleged owners of UBS Securities Co. Ltd., which include "Communist Chinese front groups."

The claim was picked up by Georgia-based attorney and Trump supporter Lin Wood, who tweeted a link to a Form D notice between Staple Street and U.S.-based UBS Securities LLC on Dec. 1. Wood promotes the QAnon loyalist phrase "Where We Go One We Go All" in his Twitter bio.

QAnon is based on the prediction of "The Storm," an event marked by alleged mass arrests of high profile Democrats and left-leaning celebrities to save the world from a "satanic cult" of pedophiles and cannibals, USA TODAY reported.

Based on Wood's tweet, BillLawrenceOnline.com, a news and entertainment website created by blogger William Lawrence Sr., wrote the Dec. 1 blog post, "China Bought Dominion In October." Recent posts from the blogger have focused on election controversy and Christian themes.

"Staple Street Capital III, L.P. sold $400 million in securities to UBS Securities Co., Ltd. as reveled 12:15 today, Dec. 1, by attorney Lin Wood in a cryptic tweet to a link to the sale’s SEC Form D," reads a statement from the post.

Lawrence's website was among several that spread the claim. Conservative-leaning The Epoch Times and Christianity Daily also pushed the rumor.

A UBS spokesperson denied the claim.

Dominion Voting Systems has no Chinese investors

A Form D, or a notice of exempt offering of securities is filed within 15 days after the first sale of securities, which are tradable financial assets. The first investor is contractually obligated to invest on the date of first sale, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Form D that Wood tweeted outlines the $400 million exchange of securities to Staple Street from institutional investors. UBS Securities, LLC, which is based in New York, served as the adviser between the company and its investors, who are not named.

UBS Securities is renowned for brokering deals between private equity firms, and as a publicly traded company, UBS has multiple shareholders, according to its website. The bank has subsidiaries around the globe, including UBS Securities Co. Ltd. in Beijing, of which it owns 51%.

Writers who picked up the Dominion claim confused the U.S.-based subsidiary — UBS Securities LLC — with its Chinese counterpart — UBS Securities Co. Ltd. — a fact Lawrence acknowledged in a statement of correction after The Associated Press fact-checked the claim.

"Things have evolved and some of the criticism is legitimate. For instance, it is correct to point out that the securities sold by Staple Street Capital went to UBS Securities Co., LLC. This is UBS’ New York affiliate, not the UBS Securities Co., Ltd. that is openly affiliated with the Chinese communist, and which we incorrectly cited as the purchaser," the correction states.

Our rating: False

A claim stating China invested $400 million in Dominion Voting Systems is FALSE, based on our research. The source of the claim, which is unclear, confused New York-based UBS Securities Co. LLC with Beijing-based UBS Securities Co. Ltd. Further, the U.S.-based bank brokered an exchange of securities between institutional investors and private equity firm Staple Street Capital III L.P., but it did not invest in the company.

Our fact-check sources:

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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