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Rubio to Wall Street: We’re No Longer Ignoring the China Problem
Washington presses Wall Street to solve its China problem
By Josh Rogin
June 6, 2019
For years, Wall Street has been getting rich helping Chinese companies raise money on U.S. stock exchanges, without those firms being required to meet basic U.S. standards for transparency. This practice fuels a huge and growing risk to our economy that can no longer be ignored. Now, Congress is trying to force China and Wall Street to pay attention.
Millions of Americans have unknowingly invested hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese companies whose audits have never been verified by U.S. regulators because the Chinese government does not permit its companies to submit to basic scrutiny and oversight in the United States. Hundreds of Chinese companies are listed on U.S. stock exchanges through a variety of creative investment mechanisms. Their financial audits, according to Chinese law, can’t ever be checked.
What’s worse, when a Chinese firm is revealed to be involved in fraudulent activity, as happens all the time, U.S. investors have zero recourse in China. The result: Chinese companies are bilking U.S. investors and U.S. markets are carrying huge and incalculable added risk. In 2018, a group of whistleblowers highlighted the problem in a documentary called “The China Hustle.”
On Wednesday, Congress engaged on the issue in a big way. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill that would give any foreign firm three years to make their audits available to U.S. regulators or face increased disclosure requirements. If they don’t comply, they would be delisted from U.S. exchanges.
The Chinese government is actively shielding U.S.-listed Chinese companies from complying with U.S. laws and regulations by outlawing the disclosure of financial information on national security or secrecy grounds. That places American investors at risk and damages the integrity of U.S markets, according to Rubio.
“The Communist Chinese government continues to exploit the freedom and openness of the U.S.-led global economic order to further serve its mercantilist goals, despite naive hopes that joining the [World Trade Organization] would turn it into a responsible stakeholder,” he told me.
Read the rest here.