Luckin Coffee shares dive as probe into alleged $310m fraud starts

Luckin Coffee shares dive as probe into alleged $310m fraud starts

2020年4月5日 Techinasia

Nasdaq-listed Luckin Coffee’s share price fell 75.57% to US$6.40 as of market close on Thursday, after the company submitted a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcing an internal investigation into the conduct of former chief operating officer Jian Liu, who is believed to have inflated revenues by 2.2 billion yuan (US$310.5 million).


Luckin also stipulated that law firm Kirkland & Ellis will provide independent counsel during the investigation, and advised investors to disregard financial results and guidance from 2019 until the full extent of misconduct can be identified.


The now-suspended Jian Liu served as Luckin’s COO since May 2018, having previously worked with CEO Qian Zhiya at Car Inc. from 2008 to 2017.


On January 31, questions about the legitimacy of Luckin’s financial results were first raised by diligence-based equity research firm Muddy Waters, which revealed their short position on Luckin via Twitter, citing an 89-page anonymous report supported by 11,260 hours of store traffic video footage. The specific reference to tracking in-store video suggested the embellishment of sales.


Just days later on February 3, Xiamen-based Luckin responded to the short attack, refuting the “misleading and false allegations” in another SEC filing, KrAsia reported. At the time, the on-demand beverage startup claimed that all of its “key operating data, including the number of items per store per day, items per order, and effective selling price, are tracked in real time and could be verified.”


About a month later on March 6, 10 US law firms announced they were prepared to file a lawsuit against Luckin on behalf of investors. Specifically, these American investigators were looking into the potential fabrication of certain financial and operating metrics, including per-store per-day sales, net selling price per item, and advertising expenses.


Luckin has performed well since its initial public offering that raised US$645 million in May 2019, climbing from an opening price of just over US$20 to a peak of around US$50 in January. The fallout from Thursday’s announcement erased what was a 54% gain since IPO, slashing the company’s market cap by almost US$5 billion.


Despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Luckin’s 2020 outlook was positive, as analysts had expected a 170% year-on-year increase in sales before news of the investigation broke. In addition, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, 33 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey held long positions in Luckin, an increase of 43% from the previous quarter.


Luckin chief financial officer Reinout Schakel said in an interview last November that the company is on track to become profitable by the third quarter of 2020.


The company has established the largest network of coffee stores in China as of the end of 2019, surpassing industry incumbent Starbucks. However, it might take some time for Luckin’s management to repair their credibility in the eyes of investors.

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124 arrested in South Korean online blackmail sex scandal

124 arrested in South Korean online blackmail sex scandal

2020年3月24日 Reuters
  1. South Korean President Moon Jae-in called yesterday for a full investigation into a network of chat rooms at the heart of an operation to blackmail women and underage girls into sharing sexual images of themselves.

  2. The National Police Agency announced 124 suspects have been arrested and 18 chat-room operators on Telegram and other social-media outlets detained as a result of sexual-crime investigations that began in September of 2019.

  3. According to The Diplomats, among the suspects, the most prominent is known by the surname Cho and the Telegram nickname “Doctor.” He is thought to be the largest and most active distributor of illegal videos on the social-media outlets with more than 260,000 followers.

  4. The perpetrators would attract victims through fake job advertisements and solicit compromising photographs. They would then threaten to release the photographs if the victims did not send images of increasingly degrading and violent acts, police said.

  5. At least 74 women, including 16 underage girls, were “virtually enslaved” for several months, police said. In some cases, the victims were blackmailed into committing violent acts on themselves.

  6. Public outrage hit critical mass yesterday as a petition gathered more than 2.3 million signatures — passing a threshold that requires the president’s office to respond.

  7. The petition’s author urged authorities to disclose the identity of the network kingpin — who went by the user name “GodGod” — and release his picture.

  8. The suspect allegedly lured victims into taking nude images of themselves and shared them in a Telegram chat room, a popular encrypted-messaging app.

  9. The petition also criticized other participants who paid as much as 1.5 million won (US$1,187) to view the images.

  10. Police said as a matter of policy they would not reveal any of the suspect’s names.

  11. Presidential Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok said Moon considered the alleged crimes “a cruel act that destroyed human life” and asked police to treat the case as a serious crime.

  12. Moon also urged police to expand their investigation into chat-room members to change the perception of perpetrators who “hide behind anonymity.”

  13. As digital sex crimes increase worldwide, South Korea has become the global epicenter of spycam pornography — the use of tiny, hidden cameras to film victims naked, urinating or having sex.

  14. Last year, South Korean, British and American authorities said they arrested 337 people worldwide, including 223 South Koreans, after taking down a child pornography web site operated from South Korea.

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Just How Bad Could a Coronavirus Recession Get?

Just How Bad Could a Coronavirus Recession Get?


Whether this week’s collapse of stock and oil prices will spiral into a much deeper economic crisis, perhaps even eclipsing that of 2008, depends on how the United States and other governments react.


The United States has now, belatedly, taken drastic actions on travel and announced some support for businesses. But these are too late to prevent the coronavirus from spreading and too little to stave off a deeper economic downturn.


Swamping the markets with liquidity, as was done in 2008, is not going to resolve the problem this time. The markets are already awash in cash, and as was again demonstrated in early March, further cuts in interest rates no longer translate into growth. What is needed now is leadership that focuses on the domestic challenges and seeks to build international cooperation — rather than scapegoating other countries.


Wide-ranging targeted interventions, including tax cuts for the lowest-income earners, would restore confidence and help working people and the businesses that could be devastated. However, national policies alone, adopted government by government, will not be enough to forestall a global catastrophe.


The world needs a coordinated economic response. Vulnerable governments that risk buckling under the strain of the pandemic require financial support to prevent the global health crisis from also becoming a financial crisis.


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