Remember Longtop Financial Technologies? Deloitte resigned as auditors of the Chinese company back in May after LFT took some actions that were, shall we say, unusual for an audit client. Among them, “interference by certain members of Longtop management in DTT’s audit process; and […] the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files.” And there may be some financial statement fraud going on, to boot. What’s even slightly weirder is Deloitte’s resig nt to Longtop’s Audit Committee that laid out the specifics:
[A]s a result of intervention by the Company’s officials including the Chief Operating Officer, the confirmation process was stopped amid serious and troubling new developments including: calls to banks by the Company asserting that Deloitte was not their auditor; seizure by the Company’s staff of second round bank confirmation documentation on bank premises; threats to stop our staff leaving the Company premises unless they allowed the Company to retain our audit files then on the premises; and then seizure by the Company of certain of our working papers.
Right. The auditors-almost-taken-hostage situation. Quite a doozy, this one. Based on the history between Deloitte and Longtop, one would think that Green Dot would jump at any chance to exact a little revenge on these shady bastards. NOPE!
From the crack squad at the SEC:
The Securities and Exchange Commission today 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.
“Compliance with an SEC subpoena is not an option, it is a legal obligation,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The ability of the SEC to conduct swift and thorough investigations requires that subpoena recipients promptly comply with that legal obligation. Subpoena recipients who refuse to comply should expect serious legal consequences.”
Maybe the email/hand-written letter sent by carrier pigeon (whatever method of communication the Commission is using these days) got lost OR maybe no one at Deloitte Shanghai was in the translating mood that day but it seems slightly strange that Deloitte would just blow this off especially since Longtop screwed them 70 ways to Sunday. Of course these documents could show that Deloitte was really a bunch of pansies and we’re letting LFT run the show until the gross negligence got to the point that they simply couldn’t ignore it anymore. It’s anybody’s guess, really.
On Monday, we reported on Longtop Financial Technologies was the latest Chinese company to have their CFO quit, auditor resign and be accused of being a massive fraud. This particular story was interesting as one of the reasons cited by Deloitte for dumping LFT included “the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files.” These accusations were described in much more detail in Deloitte’s letter to the company’s audit committee that was filed with the SEC and you may even conclude that the staff were thisclose to being hos
We italicized and bolded the best part.
The Audit Committee
Longtop Financial Technologies Limited
No. 61 Wanghai Road, Xiamen Software Park
Xiamen, Fujian Province
People’s Republic of China
Attention: Mr. Thomas Gurnee, Chairman of the Audit Committee
Longtop Financial Technologies Limited (the “Company”) and together with its subsidiaries (the “Group”)
Audit for the Year Ended 31 March 2011
We hereby give you formal notice of our resignation as auditor of the Company.
Background and significant issues encountered by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. (China) (“Deloitte”)
As part of the process for auditing the Company’s financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2011, we determined that, in regard to bank confirmations, it was appropriate to perform follow up visits to certain banks. These audit steps were recently performed and identified a number of very serious defects including: statements by bank staff that their bank had no record of certain transactions; confirmation replies previously received were said to be false; significant differences in deposit balances reported by the bank staff compared with the amounts identified in previously received confirmations (and in the books and records of the Group); and significant bank borrowings reported by bank staff not identified in previously received confirmations (and not recorded in the books and records of the Group).
In the light of this, a formal second round of bank confirmation was initiated on 17 May. Within hours however, as a result of intervention by the Company’s officials including the Chief Operating Officer, the confirmation process was stopped amid serious and troubling new developments including: calls to banks by the Company asserting that Deloitte was not their auditor; seizure by the Company’s staff of second round bank confirmation documentation on bank premises; threats to stop our staff leaving the Company premises unless they allowed the Company to retain our audit files then on the premises; and then seizure by the Company of certain of our working papers.
In that connection, we must insist that you promptly return our documents.
Then on 20 May the Chairman of the Company, Mr. Jia Xiao Gong called our Eastern Region Managing Partner, Mr. Paul Sin, and informed him in the course of their conversation that “there were fake revenue in the past so there were fake cash recorded on the books”. Mr. Jia did not answer when questioned as to the extent and duration of the discrepancies. When asked who was involved, Mr. Jia answered: “senior management”.
We bring these significant issues to your attention in the context of our responsibilities under Statement on Auditing Standards No. 99 “Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit” issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Reasons for our resignation
The reasons for our resignation include: 1) the recently identified falsity of the Group’s financial records in relation to cash at bank and loan balances (and also now seemingly in the sales revenue); 2) the deliberate interference by the management in our audit process; and 3) the unlawful detention of our audit files. These recent developments undermine our ability to rely on the representations of the management which is an essential element of the audit process; hence our resignation.
Prior periods’ financial reports and our reports thereon
We have reached the conclusion that we are no longer able to place reliance on management representations in relation to prior period financial reports. Accordingly, we request that the Company take immediate steps to make the necessary 8-K filing to state that continuing reliance should no longer be placed on our audit reports on the previous financial statements and moreover that we decline to be associated with any of the Company’s financial communications during 2010 and 2011.
We hereby consent to a copy of this letter being supplied to the SEC and the succeeding auditor to be appointed.
Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (U.S.)
In our view, without providing any legal conclusion, the circumstances mentioned above could constitute illegal acts for purposes of Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Accordingly, we remind the Board of its obligations under Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act, including the notice requirements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. You may consider taking legal advice on this.
/s/ Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd.
c.c.: The Board of Directors
And yes the perpetrator, Longtop Financial Technologies, is a Chinese company.
As we mentioned, Deloitte had some decent reasons for kicking LFT to curb, among them:
(1) the recently identified falsity of the Company’s financial records in relation to cash at bank and loan balances (and possibly in sales revenue); (2) the deliberate interference by certain members of Longtop management in DTT’s audit process; and (3) the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files. DTT further stated that DTT was no longer able to rely on management’s representations in relation to prior period financial reports, that continued reliance should no longer be placed on DTT’s audit reports on the previous financial statements, and DTT declined to be associated with any of the Company’s financial communications in 2010 and 2011.
And because it seems to be the standard narrative in stories such as these, Longtop’s CFO has resigned and “The Audit Committee has also initiated a search for a new auditor.” Although were not sure if there’s a firm out there that will pick up a client who has engaged in hostage taking.