Editorial Exchange: Who, What Exactly Is CNOOC?

By Press, Winnipeg Free | The Canadian Press, December 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Editorial Exchange: Who, What Exactly Is CNOOC?


Press, Winnipeg Free, The Canadian Press


Editorial Exchange: Who, what exactly is CNOOC?

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Dec. 6:

Chinese law does not allow United States-based accounting firms to obtain documents they need to audit nine Chinese companies whose shares are traded on U.S. stock markets. Suspicion of fraud has deeply depressed the market value of U.S.-traded Chinese companies. Despite demands of the Securities and Exchange Commission, those suspicions will remain because the auditors are simply forbidden to look over the Chinese wall.

U.S. investors in those companies might like to have known years ago, when they bought into those companies, about the Chinese audit restrictions that may now be concealing fraud. They might have done better to move by small, cautious steps and discover the peculiarities of the Chinese rules before the stakes got too large.

The Harper government, which is about to reach a conclusion on the Chinese takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Energy, should look for ways to expand trade and investment links between China and Canada. It should develop those links step by step, recognizing the limits of Canadian knowledge about China and about the nasty surprises that occasionally arise.

Canadian investors in Sino-Forest Corp., a former market darling now bankrupt, were baffled by the same fog of misinformation that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is wrestling with now. Sino-Forest investors relied on the accounting firm Ernst & Young to find out if Sino-Forest really did own the woodlands and cutting rights it claimed. This turned out to be a Chinese state secret that, for reasons of high policy, could not be disclosed to foreigners. Ernst & Young, without admitting fault, has agreed to a settlement with the investors. The Ontario Securities Commission this week accused Ernst & Young of failing to conduct its audits according to industry standards.

The U.S. securities regulator, in the same way, this week accused the Chinese affiliates of the greatest U.S. accounting firms of withholding documents from investigators. The firms contend they are forbidden to give documents to foreigners. …

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Editorial Exchange: Who, What Exactly Is CNOOC?
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