The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a bulletin warning of potential securities fraud among companies that went public through a reverse merger, which New York securities lawyers can recognize as a too common cause for alarm.
A New York Investment Fraud Attorney should be consulted whenever a firm becomes aware of a state or federal investigation. If you are an employee who has been a whistleblower or wants to cooperate with an investigation, the earlier professional legal advice is engaged, the better the chances of a positive outcome. Likewise, those who believe they have been victimized by stock fraud need to proactively seek quality legal representation as early as possible. Multiple competing claims, criminal investigations, bankruptcy and other complications may or may not ever permit investors to be made whole. But those at the front of the line generally stand the best chance of making a financial recovery.
The Street reporter Scott Eden reports in “SEC Warns on Reverse Merger Stocks” that the bulletin comes amid a growing stock scandal involving Chinese small-cap stocks that used the controversial process. News reports of fraud and theft of capital have plagued the Chinese small-cap stock sector since early spring. Several companies have reported auditors resigning or refusing to sign off on 2010 financials, which must be filed in annual 10-K reports with the SEC. Trading has been suspended for more than 15 Chinese companies — tens of billions of market capital have evaporated as many stocks in the sector have lost at least half their value.
In a reverse merger, a privately held business obtains a registered listing by combining with a listed shell company. While legal, the process has been criticized as a means of bypassing the scrutiny of regulators, who more rigorously review bigger issues by companies looking to raise significant amounts of capital. Since 2009, there has been an uptick of Chinese companies using the process to list shares on major exchanges; in some cases, the companies have been affiliated with the same stock promoters, investment banks, auditors and attorneys.
“Given the potential risks, investors should be especially careful when considering investing in the stock of reverse merger companies,” said Lori J. Schock, Director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. “As with any investment, investors should thoroughly research the company – including ensuring there is accurate and up-to-date information – before making a decision to invest.”
Short sellers had warned the SEC of the potential for fraud in the sector for two years before the government took action. The probe is looking not only at the Chinese companies but also at the professionals on this side of the Pacific who have assisted the companies in raising capital.
Dena Aubin with Reuters News reports in “SEC warns investors on reverse merger companies” that the companies are often audited by small U.S. accounting firms , which may lack the resources to track a company to another country.
If you are a victim of investment or securities fraud, or other illegal activity as an investor or employee, contact Malecki Law for a free consultation nationwide. Call 212-943-1233.