The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that financier Danny Pang defrauded investors of hundreds of millions of dollars and obtained a temporary order freezing his assets.

As part of the SEC’s civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez froze the assets Mr. Pang and the businesses he ran, Private Equity Management Group, Inc. and Private Equity Management Group LLC. The judge also appointed a receiver, Robert P. Mosier, to safeguard the existing assets.

The judge ordered Mr. Pang to return money sent overseas and to surrender his passport. The investigation is continuing.

Mr. Pang’s investment practices came to light in a page-one article earlier this month in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Pang stepped aside temporarily as chairman and CEO of PEMGroup shortly after the article appeared. The company formed a special committee and hired law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to perform an independent investigation. A spokesman for the company had no immediate comment on the SEC allegations.

Mr. Pang, 42 years old, traveled to China two weeks ago for a religious pilgrimage, according to his spokesman. His current whereabouts are unknown. PEMGroup says it manages $4 billion, but the amount raised in Taiwan was likely closer to $1 billion, according to people close to the matter.

The SEC also accused Mr. Pang of lying about his past, saying PEMGroup falsely represented him as a former merger adviser at Morgan Stanley and said he held an M.B.A. degree from University of California, Irvine. Pang never worked at Morgan Stanley nor did he attend or obtain any degrees from UC Irvine, the SEC said.

The SEC alleged Mr. Pang’s fraud began at least in 2003 when he raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, mostly in Taiwan. Mr. Pang sold investors securities and told them he would earn enough profit to pay them returns through purchasing life-insurance policies at a discount before maturity and then collecting the proceeds of the policy upon the death of the insured, the SEC said.

In truth, the SEC alleged, the life-insurance policies didn’t generate enough profit to cover the cost of the premiums or meet the returns he promised to investors. PEMGroup instead paid investors from new money that was supposed to be invested in timeshares, the SEC said.

Kara Scannell / Mark Maremont