Financier Danny Pang, who died last weekend while facing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that he ran a massive Ponzi scheme, likely committed suicide, police said on Friday.
A spokesman for Pang's family called it improper and premature to suggest that he killed himself.
It appears to be suicide, Newport Beach Police Sgt. Evan Sailor told Reuters, although he cautioned that the death of Pang, 42, would not be officially classified as such until a formal coroner's finding.
Coroner's officials in Orange County, where Pang was pronounced dead at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach on Saturday after being found unconscious at his home, have said that results from an autopsy were awaiting results of toxicology tests, which would take two to three more months.
An Orange County coroner's spokesman has said there was no evidence of foul play in the case.
This was self-ingested, it appears to be most likely some kind of medication, Sailor said of Pang's death. This wasn't a gunshot or a hanging or anything like that.
Sailor declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding Pang's death that led police to that conclusion or disclose whether a suicide note was found.
Until the coroner actually classifies the death and they clear the case, we're not going to release any information, Sailor said.
Pang family spokesman Charles Sipkins said the financier had been taken to the hospital the night before his death because he was not feeling well.
We will not speculate on the cause of his death, Sipkins said. And the speculation that he committed suicide is improper and premature. We look forward to working with, and hearing from, the Orange County Coroner's Office when they complete their investigation.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a person close to the investigation, reported in a story on its website that Pang had barbiturates and THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, in his system when he was rushed to the hospital.
Pang was accused by the SEC of operating a massive Ponzi scheme on mainly Taiwanese investors through his Private Equity Management Group LLC and Private Equity Management Group Inc, or PEMGroup.
He was charged in April with trying to hide about $300,000 in U.S. bank transactions from government currency reporting requirements and was free on $1 million bail.
Some of Pang's personal assets had been frozen and his Irvine-based companies were being run by a court-appointed receiver as the result of an SEC civil lawsuit.
Pang's trial date was recently pushed back until August 2010. He faced up to 10 years in prison in the criminal case.
(Editing by Bill Trott)