June 2, 2017 / 10:28 AM / 2 years ago

Japan's GPIF pension fund sues Toshiba auditor over investment losses

The logo of Toshiba is seen as shareholders arrive at Toshiba's extraordinary shareholders meeting in Chiba, Japan March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s giant Government Investment Pension Fund (GPIF) has sued the local affiliate of global accounting firm Ernst & Young, claiming $31 million for losses on investments in Toshiba Corp stemming from the conglomerate’s accounting scandal in 2015.

Toshiba has been on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s supervision list since mid-March as it has failed to clear up concerns about its internal controls after the $1.3 billion accounting scandal. That scandal preceded the crisis now engulfing Toshiba over billions of dollars in cost overruns at its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Corp.

The world’s biggest pension fund filed the suit last month, seeking 3.5 billion yen ($31.40 million) in damages from Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, saying the auditor failed to properly monitor Toshiba.

“Showing a considerable lack of care, defendant gave an unqualified opinion” certifying Toshiba’s statements, the $1.3 trillion GPIF claimed in the suit, filed on May 17 in Tokyo District Court and reviewed by Reuters on Friday. “As a result, plaintiff suffered losses.”

A ShinNihon spokesman said the firm “will respond appropriately based on a careful review of the filing”.

An investigation of the accounting scandal found widespread accounting errors throughout the laptops-to-nuclear conglomerate, and blamed a corporate culture in which employees found it difficult to question their superiors.

GPIF estimates its Toshiba investment losses from the scandal at 12.3 billion yen, the ShinNihon suit says. GPIF has sued Toshiba itself over the accounting scandal, seeking a total of 13.2 billion yen in several filings.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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