The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Crowe U.K. LLP, a London based audit firm, its CEO, Nigel Bostock, and senior auditor, Matthew Stallabrass, for the firm’s deficient audit of music streaming company Akazoo Limited. Crowe U.K., Bostock, and Stallabrass have agreed to settle the SEC’s charges.
According to the SEC’s order, Crowe U.K. issued a clean audit report of Akazoo’s 2018 financial statements. However, as the order finds, after Akazoo went public in September 2019 via merger with a special purpose acquisition company, also known as a De-SPAC transaction, it was revealed that the company’s 2018 financial statements falsely claimed $120 million in revenue when Akazoo had only negligible amounts of revenue. The order finds that Crowe U.K. claimed that it conducted its 2018 audit in accordance with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) standards when, in fact, its Akazoo audit team had almost no experience or training in PCAOB standards. Further, the order finds that the audit team overlooked red flags when, for instance, they failed to exercise an appropriate level of due professional care or professional skepticism when Akazoo presented fabricated agreements and inauthentic confirmation letters to the audit team. The order also finds that Crowe U.K. made false statements in its audit report when it claimed that Akazoo fairly presented its financial statements in all material respects for 2018. The order finds that, by violating PCAOB standards in connection with the 2018 Akazoo audit, Crowe U.K., Bostock, and Stallabrass engaged in improper professional conduct.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
Join Us On LinkedIn
Join the Securities Litigation and Enforcement Group on LinkedIn