September 7, 2012
Solar Manufacturer Settles SEC Charges About Concealing Agreement to Transfer Ownership Interest in Chinese SubThe SEC settled charges that Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing USA Inc. (WEMU), a solar panel manufacturer headquartered in South San Francisco, and three of its former executives defrauded investors by concealing the transfer of nearly half of the ownership stake in its Chinese subsidiary to three individuals in China who manage the subsidiary.
The SEC alleges that WEMU raised nearly $9 million from U.S. investors in early 2010 in order to expand its solar subsidiary based in Rugao City, China. The Chinese subsidiary represented the bulk of WEMU’s operations and generated 77 percent of the company’s revenue the previous year. In a power point presentation at road shows and in other communications with investors, the company’s founder and chairman of the board Jimmy Wang and the company’s president Jeffrey Watson touted the solar subsidiary’s success as the primary growth area for the company and represented that the company fully owned its Chinese subsidiary. They neglected to tell investors that WEMU actually was set to transfer 49 percent of the equity in the Chinese subsidiary to its three managers. In February 2009, Jimmy Wang signed two key agreements on behalf of WEMU to share 49 percent of the Chinese subsidiary’s net profits with the solar managers and to transfer 49 percent of the subsidiary’s equity to them in February 2010. Failure to disclose these agreements resulted in WEMU filing false and misleading quarterly reports for the first three quarters of 2009 and first quarter of 2010.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, WEMU agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty and be permanently enjoined from future violations of antifraud, reporting, books and records and internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws. The Wangs and Watson consented to permanent bars from serving as officers or directors of a public company and agreed to be permanently enjoined from future violations of the antifraud and other provisions of the federal securities laws. Mindy Wang and Watson each agreed to pay penalties of $50,000. The terms of the settlement with Jimmy Wang reflect credit given to him by the Commission for his substantial assistance in the investigation and the fact that he has entered into a cooperation agreement to assist in the ongoing investigation.
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