On August 24, 2012, in a decision involving a U.S.-listed Chinese company that is of particular interest because of the significance the court attached to the discrepancies between financial figures the defendant company reported to the Chinese government and the figures it reported to the SEC, Southern District of New York Judge George Daniels denied in part the motions to dismiss of the company and two of its senior officials. He did grant the dismissal motions of the company's outside auditor and principal outside investor, as well as the control person allegations against the company's directors. A copy of Judge Daniels opinion can be found here.
Duoyuan Global Water (DGW) listed its American Depositary Shares on the NYSE through a June 24, 2009 IPO. In its initial reports following the IPO, DGW reported positive financial results. The first indication of trouble arose when accounting concerns surfaced concerning a separate but affiliated company Duoyuan Printing (which is itself now the subject of a separate securities suit, refer here). Because of the close relationship between the companies (they operate in the same location, and have the same Chairman, among other things), questions arose about DGW. In September 2010, the board's audit committee retained Skadden Arps to review DGW's accounting.
In April 2011, an online report critical of DGW appeared on the Muddy Waters research analysis website. Among other things, the report accused DGW of replacing the 2009 report to the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) with a forged version to cover up the fact that revenues had been "astronomically inflated." That same day the company's CFO resigned. Shortly thereafter, four members of the board resigned to protest the lack of access that Skadden was being given to company documents. Skadden withdrew its representation as well. As detailed here, securities litigation ensured.
The plaintiffs based their allegations that the company's IPO documents and subsequent filings contained financial misrepresentations were based largely on discrepancies between financial figures that two of DGW's subsidiaries had reported in China to the SAIC and figures the company reported in its SEC filings. The plaintiffs also alleged other misrepresentations, including alleged misstatements concerning the number DGW's distributors and the number of its employees. The plaintiffs asserted claims under both Section 11 of the '33 Act and Section 10(b) of the '34 Act. The defendants moved to dismiss.
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Read other items of interest from the world of directors & officers liability, with occasional commentary, at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.
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