Fort Worth man offered $200M to buy Virgin Orbit. He had less than $1 in his bank account, SEC claims

The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing a Fort Worth native, claiming he submitted a ‘bogus offer’ of $200 million to buy a now-defunct aerospace company, according to a lawsuit obtained by FOX 4.

The SEC says Matthew Brown, a self-proclaimed venture capitalist who grew up in Fort Worth but now lives in Hawaii, offered to bail out Virgin Orbit with $200 million in March 2023 as the company was on the edge of bankruptcy.

Brown told the company’s CEO that he had already invested hundreds of millions in other space companies and sent him a fake screenshot showing $182 million in his bank account, the SEC alleges.

However, the SEC claims Brown had less than $1 in his bank account. Brown falsely claimed he had a law degree from SMU and had investments "in over 13 space companies," according to the complaint. 

Virgin Orbit signage is displayed outside the companys headquarters in Long Beach, California on April 4, 2023. - Virgin Orbit, the satellite launch company founded by Richard Branson, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will sell the business, t

After leaking the offer to the media, Virgin Orbit’s stock price spiked by 33%. Brown even appeared on CNBC to tout his offer even though he signed an NDA, according to the complaint.

The SEC says Brown actually had a negative net worth at the time and no holdings in the space industry, as he claimed. He also failed to respond to Virgin Orbit's due diligence inquiries.

Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy the following month and sold all of its assets.

The SEC wants Brown to pay a civil fine and face a permanent ban from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

In response to the SEC's lawsuit, Brown's company released the following statement to FOX 4:

"In 2023, we were approached by a representative of Virgin Orbit to invest. We engaged in commercial conversations, and during our evaluations, a non-binding letter of intent was produced by Virgin Orbit. However, during our due diligence, we decided not to invest.
The SEC's complaint is filled with egregious errors, fabrications and biased allegations that undeniably favor the true culprit, Virgin Orbit's management. 

Mr. Brown is an esteemed businessman, community member and philanthropist. This matter concerns a single potential transaction, specifically a non-binding indicative term sheet, unrelated to Mr. Brown's core businesses and is the first to draw fictitious, inaccurate and exaggerated claims by the SEC, despite Mr. Brown's extensive involvement in the investment community.

We are steadfast in our commitment to thoroughly contest these issues, if they arise, through the trial process. We have the utmost respect for our judicial system, and our stance in this civil lawsuit is firm: We will not settle until we are vindicated by the rule of law."