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SEC charges Trump Media auditor with ‘massive fraud’

An auditor associated with former president Donald Trump’s Trump Media is facing serious allegations of engaging in fraudulent activities and operating an illegitimate audit operation, as stated by the US’s leading financial regulator (SEC) on Friday.

BF Borgers and its owner, Benjamin Borgers, who serves clients such as Trump Media, have been charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with a fraudulent scheme that impacted over 1,500 SEC filings. Borgers has also represented financial technology and cryptocurrency companies, as indicated by SEC filings.

Trump’s media head under SEC’s review

As stated in the company’s most recent annual report filing, BF Borgers was named as the auditor for Trump Media on March 28. The company revealed during that period that BF Borgers had also conducted its audits prior to the company’s public debut through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp, a shell company with substantial funds.

BF Borgers has agreed to pay a $12m civil penalty, while Benjamin Borgers has agreed to pay a $2m civil penalty, in order to settle the SEC’s civil charges. They have also agreed to permanent suspensions from practicing as accountants on SEC filings, effective immediately.

It was unclear right away which filings or companies had been impacted.

The company had previously gone through at least two other auditors — one that resigned the account in July 2023 and another that was terminated by the board in March, just as it was re-hiring BF Borgers.

In a statement, Trump Media expressed its anticipation of collaborating with new auditing partners in compliance with the recent SEC order.

As per the SEC, Borgers failed to adequately prepare and maintain audit documentation, falsely claimed to have conducted audit planning meetings, and at times used previous audits as if they were for the current audit period.

According to Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s division of enforcement, Ben Borgers and his audit firm, BF Borgers, were involved in a significant failure by gatekeepers in our financial markets.

As a result of their fraudulent conduct, they not only put investors and markets at risk by causing public companies to incorporate non-compliant audits and reviews into more than 1,500 filings with the commission but also undermined trust and confidence in our markets.


SEC’s stand on BF Borgers

Out of 369 clients served by BF Borgers, a significant majority of their filings from January 2021 through June 2023 included audits that did not meet the SEC’s regulations.

BF Borgers’ shortcuts involved the unethical practice of duplicating audit documentation from a previous year, altering important dates, and presenting it as current documentation. Furthermore, the fabricated documentation not only included records of work that was never performed, but also falsely claimed that planning meetings with clients took place and misrepresented that both Benjamin Borgers and another reviewer had endorsed the audit work.

During the period of the SEC’s complaint, BF Borgers represented Trump Media. In late March, Trump Media merged with a publicly traded shell company, Digital World Acquisition Corp, in a deal that valued the social network at close to $8bn. The company now trades under the ticker symbol “DJT,” using the initials of its founder.

Shares of Trump Media have experienced a significant decline since their initial launch. However, despite doubts about the value of the social media platform and the company’s financial challenges, the stock has continued to greatly enhance the wealth of the former president.

The share price of Trump Media experienced a decline of over 5% on Friday but ultimately closed the day with a decrease of 1.54%. However, it has shown an overall increase of nearly 14% over the past five trading days. 

The company’s current valuation exceeds $6.5 billion. As the company’s largest shareholder, Trump recently qualified for a bonus based on the company’s share performance. This boosted the paper value of his stake to $3.7bn.



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