TORONTO – Formed in 1994, Sino-Forest grew to become the most valuable forestry company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It was also the first and biggest foreign-owned forestry firm in China and conducted most of its business there, even though it was based in Ontario. That was before its collapse in 2012.
Here is a timeline of the Sino-Forest case before the Ontario Securities Commission:
June 2, 2011: Muddy Waters Research releases a report that accuses Sino-Forest of exaggerating its assets and fabricating sales transactions. Shares in the company are halted from trading.
June 3, 2011: Sino-Forest shares lose nearly two-thirds of their value, or about $2.3 billion. Company executives say the allegations in the Muddy Waters Research report are unfounded and they’re confident an independent investigation will conclude as much.
June 8, 2011: The Ontario Securities Commission says it is investigating Sino-Forest.
Aug. 26, 2011: The OSC accuses Sino-Forest Corp. of fraud and stops trading of the company’s shares on the TSX.
Aug. 28, 2011: CEO Allen Chan resigns.
Nov. 10, 2011: The OSC refers Sino-Forest fraud allegations to the RCMP.
Nov. 15, 2011: Sino-Forest says an interim report from an independent investigation refutes allegations that it is fraudulent. But the report also raises concerns about the challenges of verifying timberland holdings in China.
Jan. 31, 2012: Final report from independent investigation is released. It leaves several key questions unanswered, including the value of Sino-Forest’s forestry assets.
March 30, 2012: Sino-Forest files for bankruptcy protection and puts itself up for sale.
May 9, 2012: Sino-Forest shares are delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
May 22, 2012: The OSC formally accuses Sino-Forest and five executives including Chan of lying to investors and attempting to mislead investigators.
July 21, 2014: David Horsley, former chief financial officer of Sino-Forest, agrees to pay $6.3 million to the OSC and to settle class-action lawsuits. In exchange, he agrees to testify against other former company executives.
Sept. 2, 2014: The OSC Sino-Forest case begins. OSC lawyer Hugh Craig says even though its main operations were based in China, the company should be judged by Canadian standards. Chan’s lawyer says while some of Sino-Forest’s business practices may seem peculiar to North Americans, they were “workarounds” that the firm had to employ because they were operating in a country where they were prevented from registering businesses, opening bank accounts and exchanging money freely.
April 18, 2016: Closing arguments begin. Craig says Chan was the “controlling mind” behind alleged frauds that robbed shareholders of value.
April 26, 2016: Chan’s lawyer tells the hearing that it can’t be assumed the former CEO knew everything that was going on within the company.