The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged the auditing firm Anton & Chia and several of its officials with fraud, accusing the Newport Beach, Calif.-based firm of conducting flawed audits and reviews of financial statements while violating securities laws.
The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that the firm and its accountants ignored signs of fraudulent financial reporting by three audit clients: Accelera Innovations Inc., Premier Holding Corp., and CannaVEST Corp. Accelera’s public filings, for instance, allegedly included revenue, assets, and liabilities from an entirely different company. The SEC alleges the firm helped facilitate Accelera’s fraud.
Anton & Chia managing partner Gregory Wahl, who was one of the officials accused by the SEC, called the SEC charges "total bullsh-t." He didn't comment further.
The SEC has also charged Accelera Innovations Inc., Premier Holding Corp., and CannaVEST Corp , along with several of the auditors at Anton & Chia.
“Auditors are crucial gatekeepers whose careful oversight of financial statements helps ensure that public companies provide accurate information to investors,” said Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, in a statement.
Anton & Chia partner Richard J. Koch and former partner Rahuldev Gandhi have already settled SEC charges for their roles in the audits and interim reviews, each agreeing to pay $15,000 penalties and be suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as an accountant, which includes not participating in the financial reporting or audits of public companies. Gandhi can apply for possible reinstatement after three years and Koch after two years.
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