The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is extending its reach beyond US shores, cracking down on a London-based audit firm and its executives. The latest enforcement action is not crypto-related, but the UK firm has advocated for wider adoption of digital assets, so it could be an alternative motive.
On Aug. 14, the SEC announced it had charged Crowe UK LLP, a United Kingdom-based auditing firm, for a ‘deficient audit’ of a music streaming company.
SEC Goes After UK Firm for Falsified Financials
Furthermore, the firm’s CEO, Nigel Bostock, and senior auditor, Matthew Stallabrass, were also hit with SEC charges. They agreed to settle with the American federal regulator, according to the announcement.
Following the audit, the music firm Akazoo Limited was allowed the company to go public via a SPAC merger. This is despite having falsified financials as alleged by the SEC.
Crowe claimed it followed Public Company Accounting Oversight Board standards but overlooked red flags and failed to exercise skepticism when auditing Akazoo.
Moreover, this enabled Akazoo to falsely claim $120 million in revenue and get listed. SEC regional director, Eric Werner, said:
“We will continue holding gatekeepers accountable, especially those whose professional failings allow financial frauds to enter our public markets.”
Crowe, its CEO, and auditor have agreed to settle charges of improper conduct and pay penalties.
It comes as no surprise that Crowe is also pro-crypto. The firm claims to be a “resource for crypto and digital assets,” and its website states, “Crypto and digital assets are a part of the financial services ecosystem.”
It also offers crypto services to clients, stating:
“We can help you define the impact and implications of your crypto and digital asset objectives.”
Is the SEC Extending Its Reach?
The SEC could be extending its reach in a possible alternative motive-driven move in its proxy war on crypto.
The financial regulator does not have direct jurisdiction or enforcement powers in the United Kingdom.
However, it has some leverage over UK firms involved in US markets, such as mergers via special purpose acquisition companies. In this case, it worked with the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority.
The SEC has a long list of enforcement actions it has taken against companies outside of the United States. It has an even longer list of US crypto companies that have been hit with enforcement actions recently.
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