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February 5, 2023

Finding a Good CFO Is So Hard Companies Are Just Making Them Up Now

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Finding a good CFO is tough. So tough, in fact, that one company recently got in a bit of hot water for pulling one right out of their ass. Allegedly.

WSJ reports:

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged the former chief executive of an oil-and-gas production company with fraud for allegedly falsifying the existence of its previous finance chief.

Tom Simeo, the former CEO of Viking Energy Group Inc., was charged with violating the antifraud provisions of securities laws, the regulator said Tuesday.

According to the SEC, Simeo “created the false impression to the public that Viking had an experienced financial professional involved in its operations and financial reporting as its CFO, when in reality, the Company had no CFO.” The complaint alleges that between November 2014 and May 2016, Viking’s filings identified a Guangfang “Cecile” Yang as the company’s CFO.

In addition, as alleged, certain SOX certifications accompanying these filings falsely represented that Yang, as Viking’s CFO, had performed an evaluation of the Company’s internal controls over financial reporting and reviewed Viking’s annual and quarterly reports. The SEC alleges that Simeo created the false appearance that Yang served as CFO by repeatedly affixing Yang’s signature to Viking’s periodic reports and SOX certifications. The SEC alleges that, aside from Yang’s purported signatures on Viking’s filings, there is no evidence that Yang functioned as the Company’s CFO from at least November 2014 through Yang’s purported resignation in July 2016.

The SEC has been trying to get Simeo to produce communications relating to Yang since January 2018. A 2015 SEC filing lists Yang as a 37-year-old KPMG alum who joined Viking as CFO in 2013.

On February 7, 2013, Ms. Yang was appointed as the chief financial officer of the Company and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Company.

Ms. Yang brings to the Company 15 years of general accounting and auditing experience, auditing private and publicly held companies in China, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Most recently before joining the Company, Ms. Yang was from 2009, director of finance and administration for the Grassroots Community Association where she was the financial controller for 5 major projects and the executive body of the association, responsible for cash flow forecast and management and budget control. Ms. Yang was also in charge of overseeing the fund-raising process and managing sponsor relationships. From 2007- 2009, Ms. Yang was a Senior Manager for Acquisition Audits with Moores Rowland CEC, where she among other things, led the acquisition audit team for Sinolog Logistic Group, a company consisting of six entities headquartered in Singapore. Ms. Yang was also an annual auditor for Acer during that time.

From 1998-2006, Ms. Yang was with KPMG where she held various positions, from auditor to manager. While Ms. Yang initially held a position as an auditor, she later led a field audit with multiple team members and later became an audit team member for middle- to large-size audit projects. She coordinated auditing for the Sinopec IPO, and worked in various capacities on the China Mobil IPO and annual audit as well as the China Constructional Bank and CITIC Bank IPO’s.

Ms. Yang graduated from Hult International Business School, UK, London, from the MBA Executive Track Program. Ms. Yang also graduated from Fudan University, Shanghai, China with a bachelor degree, major in International Finance.

The SEC’s complaint charges Simeo with violating the anti-fraud provisions of Sections 17(a)(1) and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC seeks a permanent injunction against future violations, a penny stock bar, and a civil monetary penalty. The SEC also seeks an order barring Simeo from serving as an officer and director of a public company.

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