General Electric shares plummeted Thursday, dropping as much as 13 percent during the day following the release of a new report from financial whistleblower Harry Markopolos claiming the company is “a bigger fraud than Enron.”
Markopolos, who was instrumental in bringing down Bernie Madoff, claims that his team has unearthed substantial evidence of accounting fraud after seven months of analyzing GE’s books. He said they’ve uncovered $38 billion in fraud at the conglomerate, and that is “merely the tip of the iceberg.”
GE has denied the claims made in the report, telling the Wall Street Journal in a statement, “GE stands behind its financials. We operate to the highest level of integrity in our financial reporting and we have clearly laid out our financial obligations in great detail.”
GE also claims that Markopolos has ties to hedge funds that would benefit from a decline in the company’s stock.
Markopolos’ 175-page report, published at GEfraud.com, alleges that GE has had a long history of accounting fraud, dating back as early as 1995, when the company was headed by Jack Welch.
The report claims that GE is essentially insolvent, and that its industrial businesses have a working capital deficit of $20 billion.
Markopolos also contends that GE’s cash positions are worse than the company has reported. He also wrote that GE’s true debt to equity ratio is 17:1, not 3:1, “which will undermine its credit status.”
Markopolos told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday that GE’s existence could be threatened by what he found.
“It’s going to make this company probably file for bankruptcy,” Markopolos said.“WorldCom and Enron lasted about four months. … We’ll see how GE does.”