Hog production company AgFeed Industries, Inc. has agreed to pay $18 million to settle allegations filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charging the company and top executive with conducting a massive accounting fraud.
In a news release, the SEC explained $18 million settlement will be distributed to victims of the company’s fraud.
“This settlement holds AgFeed accountable for its accounting fraud and deprives the company of ill-gotten gains,” said Julie Lutz, Director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office. “This provides the most expedient and effective way to provide a substantial recovery to victims of AgFeed’s fraud while the company remains in bankruptcy.”
Details of the settlement were presented to the bankruptcy court in Delaware on Monday. The SEC reports the settlement is subject to court approval by the bankruptcy court as well as the district court in Tennessee where the case was filed.
The SEC’s case continues against five former company executives and a former audit committee chair. Read more from the SEC here.
Charges were initially announced in March 2014 after the SEC alleged four of the company’s top-level executives repeatedly reported fake revenues from the company’s China operations to meet financial targets and “prop up” AgFeed’s stock prices. The scheme also inflated prices which in turn provided illicit gains in stock offerings to investors.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the scheme boosted the company’s annual revenue over a 3 ½-year period between 71 to 103 percent.
The SEC also charged U.S. managers who, upon learning of the fraud, failed to adequately investigate and disclosure it to investors. See, “SEC files fraud charges against AgFeed.”
Law360 reports in an article here the settlement marks a green light for AgFeed to solicit votes for its Chapter 11 liquidation plan. Last August, AgFeed USA agreed to sell its operations to three of its competitors in a $79.2 million deal.
For more information on AgFeed’s bankruptcy, read “More trouble for bankrupt Agfeed,” “Murphy Brown, Cohoma Pork, High Plains Pork to buy AgFeed,” and “The Maschhoffs agrees to buy Agfeed USA.”