SEC Opens Investigation Into Alibaba

Federal regulators have opened a probe into Chinese e-commerce biggie Alibaba’s accounting practices. 

The company disclosed the investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission in its annual report on Monday, noting that it would comply with the regulator’s quest.

According to Alibaba’s report [PDF], the SEC informed the company earlier this year that it was initiating an investigation into whether there have been any violations of the federal securities laws.

“The SEC has requested that we voluntarily provide it with documents and information relating to, among other things: our consolidation policies and practices (including our accounting for Cainiao Network as an equity method investee), our policies and practices applicable to related party transactions in general, and our reporting of operating data from Singles Day,” the report states.

The company continues by noting it has voluntarily disclosed the probe and has been providing regulators with requested documents and information.

“The SEC advised us that the initiation of a request for information should not be construed as an indication by the SEC or its staff that any violation of the federal securities laws has occurred. This matter is ongoing, and, as with any regulatory proceeding, we cannot predict when it will be concluded,” the company said.

Business Insider reports that analysts have questioned Alibaba’s accounting practices for some time, focusing on its overvaluation, questionable user counts, and possibly inflated consumer spending.

Jim Chanos, the founder of Kynikos Associates, has said that Alibaba’s accounting was “some of the most questionable accounting” he had ever seen, adding that “what the company is really earning, we don’t know.”

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