Two 2010 Securities Suits Filing Trends Converge

Two 2010 Securities Suits Filing Trends Converge

Among 2010 securities class action lawsuit filing trends are two phenomena that emerged in the second-half of the year - the flurry of lawsuits filed against for-profit education companies and the proliferation of suits involving companies domiciled in China. These two filing trends converged in a single case filed last week against a Chinese for-profit education company.

According to their December 2, 2010 press release (here), plaintiffs' lawyers have filed a securities class action lawsuit against China Education Alliance, Inc. and certain of its directors and officers. The complaint, which was filed in the Central District of California, can be found here.

According to the complaint, the company provides educational resources and training through its Internet websites and training facilities in China. The complaint seeks to hold the defendants liable for misrepresenting the company's financial performance. According to the press release, the complaint alleges that

contrary to the Company's annual reports filed with the SEC for fiscal 2008, which reported $24.9 million of revenue, an annual report for the Company's main operating subsidiary filed with the Chinese authorities reported less than a million of revenue for 2008. This discrepancy, along with other accounting inconsistencies, and contradictions about the Company's online education and training center operating segments, has raised red flags of fraud. When this adverse information was released to the market on November 29, 2010 the price of China Education Alliance stock fell substantially damaging investors.

In my prior post discussing the recent outbreak of securities suits targeting Chinese companies, I noted that a recurring theme in the suits is the allegation that the companies had reported different financial information to Chinese authorities than they reported in their SEC filings. The new complaint against China Education Authority echoes this recurring allegation.

The complaint also cites sources reporting that the company's Internet sites are not functional and its training centers appear to be inactive, suggesting that the company may not even be an operating business as claimed in its U.S. public filings. (These allegations, which make for rather interesting reading, are detailed in paragraph 37 of the complaint.)

In any event, the plaintiffs' firm that filed the suit against China Education Alliance apparently has concluded that suing Chinese companies is a growth business. In addition to the new suit against China Education Alliance, the same firm also filed a separate lawsuit in the Southern District of New York last week against Mecox Lane Limited, a Chinese company that just completed its U.S. debut in an IPO on Nasdaq in October 2010.

Read the article in its entirety at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.