PracticeAuditHuntingdon parent escapes penalties

Huntingdon parent escapes penalties

Controversial US biotech group Life Sciences Research avoided the prospect of severe penalties at the eleventh hour as its auditor won a race against time for official recognition.

Link: Huntingdon to protect its auditor

LSR, the US-listed parent company of animal testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences, had until yesterday to submit its form 10-K annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Today, information available on the SEC website revealed that it had done so, meaning that its auditor Hugh Scott had received official approval from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, allowing it to sign off the company’s books.

The auditor applied to the PCAOB earlier this month, leaving it and the LSR little room to manoeuvre. The board must convene a board meeting to approve applications.

LSR’s hunt for an audit solution follows a wave of protests last year at the UK and US offices of former auditor Deloitte.

This successful conclusion could result in similar methods being used by the companies and their advisers on both sides of the Atlantic who have faced direct action in recent years.

The SEC has a number of powers at its disposal should companies fail to meet its deadlines, and in extreme circumstances it can force companies to delist.

LSR could not rely on any further extensions, having requested an extra 15 days on top of the normal 90-day limit. No further extensions are available and failure to meet this deadline would have left it open to penalties.

A spokeswoman for the PCAOB said its board must act on a registration application ‘within 45 days’.

Little is known about Hugh Scott PC. The firm’s filings with New Jersey State, where it is a registered professional corporation, state no business address.

The confusion is all part of LSR’s plan to throw Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty off the scent. Last year, the protest group forced Big Four firm Deloitte to sever ties with the firm after a two-week campaign of intimidation and protests outside its offices.

HLS and LSR did not return calls.

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