FINERA Arbitration and Securities Fraud Litigation Attorney, Russell L. Forkey, Esq.
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently filed a subpoena enforcement action against Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. for failing to produce documents related to the SEC’s investigation into possible fraud by the Shanghai-based public accounting firm’s longtime client Longtop Financial Technologies Limited.
According to the SEC’s application and supporting papers filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the SEC issued a subpoena on May 27, 2011, and D&T Shanghai was required to produce documents by July 8, 2011. Although D&T Shanghai is in possession of vast amounts of documents responsive to the subpoena, it has not produced any documents to the SEC to date. As a result, the Commission is unable to gain access to information that is critical to an investigation that has been authorized for the protection of public investors.
According to the court papers, D&T Shanghai was Longtop’s auditor since at least 2007, and the firm consented that its audit reports for Longtop could be filed annually with the SEC while knowing full well that they would be relied upon by U.S. investors. On May 22, D&T Shanghai resigned as Longtop’s auditor after discovering numerous improprieties during an audit for the year ended March 31, 2011. In its resignation letter, which was included in a Form 6-K furnished by Longtop on May 23, D&T Shanghai identified numerous indicia of financial fraud at Longtop and indicated that D&T Shanghai’s prior year audit reports for Longtop could no longer be relied upon by investors.
As part of the Longtop investigation, the SEC staff issued and served the subpoena on D&T Shanghai seeking production of documents related to the incomplete audit of Longtop for the year ended March 31 as well as prior year audits that D&T Shanghai completed. According to the court papers, these documents may reveal information about D&T Shanghai’s discovery of false financial records at Longtop, how any fraud schemes at Longtop were able to continue undetected, and basic information necessary to ferret out whether there was a fraud, who was behind it, how significant it was, and how it was conducted.
The SEC’s court papers note that Longtop is a foreign private issuer whose American depositary shares (ADSs) traded on the NYSE from the date of its initial public offering in October 2007 until May 17, 2011, when the NYSE halted trading prior to delisting Longtop’s securities in August 2011. When trading was halted, Longtop’s ADSs were priced at $18.93 per share with 57 million shares outstanding, resulting in a market capitalization of approximately $1.08 billion.
Pursuant to its application filed in court, the SEC is seeking a court order directing D&T Shanghai to show cause why the court should not enter an order requiring D&T Shanghai to produce documents responsive to the subpoena.
If the reader would like to review a copy of the SEC’s application, please follow the highlighted link.