Yinguangxia: An Epitome of Corporate Governance Flaws in China
Yinguangxia ("YGX"), a joint stock listed company in China, has captured much media attention since the mid-1990s for its contribution to China's eco-agricultural industrialisation and modernisation of traditional Chinese medicine. The astonishing leap of its share prices, about 440% in 2000, caused journalists at Caijing, a local reputable financial magazine, to be suspicious and they set off to investigate YGX. On 2 August 2001, Caijin published an article alleging YGX's misrepresentation of export activities, which involved its Tianjin subsidiary's sale of biologically extracted products to a German company, Fidelity Trading GMBH. A profit overstatement of US$93 million from 1998 to 2001 was eventually revealed by China Securities Regulatory Commission, and four of the company's senior officials, including the former CEO and CFO of YGX and Tianjin Guangxia, were sent to jail for forging documents and fraudulent misrepresentation of information. The operating licence of the company's external auditors, Zhongtianqin, was revoked and the professional certificates of its two certified public accountants were repealed. The scandal also resulted in the investors' crusading pursuit of private indemnification against their investment loss; the legal protection of private shareholders in China remained an issue of great concern in the country. Having been a top performer on the Chinese stock market, YGX's fallout has revealed the deficiencies of the corporate governance system in China. It also brings to light the problems involved in auditing practices in China.