Seattle-based ChinaHybrid coal company L&L Energy (NASDAQ:LLEN
, Stock Forum
) is engaged in a pitched battle with GeoInvesting, a team of financial writers that has looked deep into LLEN’s background and believes it has found evidence of significant fraud.
GeoInvesting has been instrumental in the exposure of several U.S.-listed Chinese companies, including six that ended with the exposed company being de-listed, such as the recently killed Longwei Petroleum
, Stock Forum
) where investigators used video surveillance footage to prove the wholesale distributor’s 5 tanker trucks weren’t fueling up at company facilities, nor was its rail spur in operation, as it boasted significant sales.
In mid-September, they wrote of L&L
that it “purports to be an American company engaged in producing, processing, and selling coal in the People's Republic of China with vertically-integrated operations that include mining, washing, wholesale, and distribution. GeoInvesting is preparing to file a whistleblower report to the NASDAQ and SEC that will accuse L&L Energy of defrauding investors by booking substantial revenue from operations that have been idled for quite some time.”
“GeoInvesting also believes that LLEN's string of acquisitions and divestitures of various properties over the last few years amounts to a bait and switch shell game where it claimed to come into possession of assets through swap transactions that never occurred through the exchange of assets it never owned in the first place. Most notably, we will show that revenue of $77.6 million disclosed in LLEN's 2013 10K, generated from its Hong Xing coal washing factory, was actually close to zero, if it is not actually zero.”
The accusations had a devastating effect on LLEN stock, crushing it from just above $3.00 down to $0.99 a few weeks later.
A string of attorneys
have since filed class action lawsuits
on behalf of investors, but today the company emerged from the shadows to post a rebuttal to the GeoInvesting report, claiming the authors don’t understand Chinese law.
GeoInvesting accused the company of, among other things:
Claiming the company's Hong Xing Coal Washing Factory, accounting for 39% of fiscal 2013 revenues, has been shut down since 2012
Accusing Hong Xing of not filing taxes
Divesting itself of Hong Xing once GeoInvesting’s investigation came to light
L&L today called the story “false and misleading,” issuing a point-by-point rebuttal of many of the claims.
“GeoInvesting is not familiar with China laws, nor understands fully our company's subsidiaries,” said the company via news release
The company said it temporarily suspended operations at Hong Xing to redirect corporate cash flow to other areas of the business, that the divesting of Hong Xing was actually a joint venture shift, and that it pays relevant national and provincial taxes as required.
“Thus, GeoInvesting confused the Company's legal structure, and status. The law of Yunnan Province changed in the past requiring the sole proprietorship ownership of DaPuAn Mine to be owned by a legal entity, a one-man company that is not available in the US. In addition, in China, the law allows a legal person to represent an entity as an agent of the real owner, which is not also available under the US law.”
Shares in L&L were up 3c Thursday to $1.64. GeoInvesting reportedly stands by its story.