Buried at the bottom of an article in this past Tuesday’s WSJ about due diligence firms sprouting up to investigate Chinese companies for hedge funds and other Western investors was a little tidbit it seems everyone either didn’t read, or felt comfortable ignoring regardless. The WSJ – investigating Deloitte’s resignation as Longtop Financial’s auditor – seems to have encountered a not-unsubstantial speed bump which I’m afraid may be indicative of far larger and more troubling problems:
A spokeswoman for Deloitte’s global network referred questions to its Chinese affiliate. Efforts to reach the Chinese firm were unsuccessful.
There are two largely distinct possibilities here: First, the WSJ reporters are not very good/diligent investigators/researchers, or second, Deloitte’s Chinese JV is in more trouble than we thought, in the wake of its involvement in frauds like CCME and Longtop. Ordinarily, I’d simply put a call into Deloitte’s offices in Shanghai myself (it took me about 90 seconds to find a phone number), but its now ~3am local time, and I have no desire to leave a voicemail and wait for a callback that very well may never come. Giving the reporters at the WSJ the benefit of the doubt that they – having been given the contact information for Deloitte’s China office by Deloitte global – would be able to figure out how to get at least a “no comment” out of someone there, leads me to believe there may be something amiss.* Seeing as I have no other information upon which to base this concern, I’m not putting too much credence in it, but it is something upon which I’ll be keeping an eye going forward. Nothing really surprises me in China anymore.
*Of course it is entirely possible “efforts to reach the Chinese firm were unsuccessful” means the reporters gave up, or otherwise mangled the effort.