The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil lawsuit against AutoChina International on Wednesday, the third lawsuit in less than two months brought against a Chinese company by US regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The SEC alleges that AutoChina employees falsely boosted trading activity, using around US$60 million deposited into brokerage accounts to make trades.
This artificial trading did not alter the share ownership but is alleged to account for up to 70% of trading in AutoChina’s stock on some days.
The intent was to provide the company with easier access to financing, the SEC said.
The suit also claims that AutoChina’s chairman and his wife gained US$120 million in financing, at least half of which was transferred to AutoChina.
The company said the case is “without merit” and that it “intends to defend against the claims vigorously.”