China studying ways to tackle accounting issues


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 - Page 10

China is paying close attention to the slump in shares of overseas-listed Chinese companies in the wake of a string of accounting problems and is studying ways to address the issue, an official from the country’s securities regulator said.

Corporate misbehavior, unfamiliarity with the US market and some practices involved in overseas listings had all contributed to the recent investor distrust of Chinese companies, said Wang Ou (王歐), vice head of research at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

“First, we have to admit that some of our companies may have flaws. Second, our [companies’] understanding of the US market and the measures to tackle risk there may be inadequate,” Wang told a conference over the weekend.

Wang’s comments, the first public remarks from the CSRC since a series of accounting scandals involving Chinese companies listed in North America, coincide with a visit to Beijing by officials from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

The delegation arrived in Beijing to meet Chinese regulators to discuss cross-border oversight, hoping to sign an agreement on accounting supervision by the end of this year, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

Audits of Chinese companies listing in the US became a hot issue after a spike in accounting scandals and shareholder lawsuits alleging fraud.

Much of the questionable accounting involved reverse mergers, a type of backdoor listing in which a foreign company merges with a US shell company.

To overcome regulatory hurdles, many Chinese companies have also set up legal structures under which control of a China-based company can be transferred to an overseas entity via certain contracts.