Luckin Coffee Reaches $ 175 Million Accounting Fraud Settlement

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(Reuters) – Shareholders of Luckin Coffee Inc. have asked a U.S. judge to approve a $ 175 million class-action settlement claiming Chinese rival Starbucks fraudulently inflated its share price by falsifying its earnings.

Shareholder attorneys called the cash settlement filed Monday night an “excellent result,” citing Luckin’s Cayman Islands liquidation proceeding and its related filing for protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The deal also covers Luckin’s officials and underwriters of the company’s initial public offering of $ 645 million in 2019 and a subsequent offering of US custodian shares.

Luckin denied doing any wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. His US-based lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Founded in 2017, the Xiamen, China-based company ended March with around 5,000 stores.

Shareholders sued Luckin in February 2020, two weeks after short seller Muddy Waters Research accused him of inflating earnings.

Two months later, Luckin’s stock price fell 81% after the company said an internal investigation found its COO and other staff members made around 310 million. in sales dollars in 2019, or roughly 40% of annual sales forecast by analysts.

Luckin agreed last December to pay a fine of $ 180 million to settle civil charges of accounting fraud by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC said Luckin raised more than $ 864 million from equity and debt investors during the fraud.

Monday’s settlement requires approval from U.S. District Judge John Cronan in Manhattan and a court in the Cayman Islands.

The shareholders were led by the Swedish pension fund Sjunde AP-Fonden and the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pension & Relief Fund.

Their lawyers, led by Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, can charge fees of up to 25% of the settlement fund.


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