L&L Energy CEO resigns in wake of criminal charges
Chief Executive Dickson Lee has resigned from the Seattle company after his March 27 arrest and the unsealing of a 10-count indictment for securities fraud and false regulatory filings.
Seattle Times deputy business editor
The CEO of L&L Energy, Dickson Lee, has resigned after his March 27 arrest and the unsealing of a 10-count indictment for securities fraud and false regulatory filings.
The Seattle-based company, which operates Chinese coal mines, reported the resignation Tuesday.
L&L has still not formally disclosed to shareholders the charges against Lee — that he fabricated the existence of a chief financial officer in 2008-2009 and forged her signature on regulatory filings. Lee has pleaded not guilty.
Lee on April 2 was ordered held without bail after federal Magistrate Judge James Donohue ruled he might flee the country if released. Donohue found that Lee has spent only 39 days in the U.S. during the past 12 months, has “a comfortable home in Taiwan with his girlfriend and two minor children,” and “has sent a substantial amount of money abroad.”
The court filings also give a glimpse into the lengthy investigation preceding the grand jury indictment.
Documents in the criminal case say that more than a year ago, on March 13, 2013, “Lee testified under oath before the Securities and Exchange Commission in a parallel investigation.”
Lee’s brother Robert was interviewed by prosecutors and the SEC in July 2013. The previous month, prosecutors quizzed Rui Lang, Dickson Lee’s personal assistant.
The company made no mention of those investigations in its regulatory filings. A call to L&L seeking comment was not immediately returned.
A grand jury indicted Lee on Jan. 29, but the indictment wasn’t unsealed until after Lee was arrested March 16 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after arriving from Taipei, Taiwan.
In arguing that Lee should not be released on bail, prosecutors also reported that “Lee has attempted to tamper with two witnesses during the course of this investigation,” citing discussions he had with his brother and the woman he’d listed as L&L’s CFO despite her refusal to take the job.
“When the individual whose name he had used to forge the CFO certifications discovered the fraud ... Dickson Lee paid the individual for her silence and then engaged in a cover-up resulting in further material misrepresentations to the investing public,” according to prosecutors.
The company, whose stock has been halted by Nasdaq since Nov. 18, set up a special committee last fall to investigate a short seller’s claims that L&L’s Chinese holdings were misrepresented.
But the independent director who headed both L&L’s audit committee and that internal investigation committee, resigned in November, complaining that the company “has not kept me fully informed as to the degree and extent of ongoing government and regulatory investigations.”
Rami Grunbaum: 206-464-8541 or firstname.lastname@example.org