NEW YORK, April 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Pomerantz LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile Inc. ("SQM" or the "Company")(NYSE: SQM) and certain of its officers. The class action, filed in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, and docketed under 15-cv-02106, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons or entities who purchased SQM securities between March 4, 2014 and March 17, 2015, inclusive (the "Class Period"). This class action seeks to recover damages against Defendants for alleged violations of the federal securities laws under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act").
If you are a shareholder who purchased SQM securities during the Class Period, you have until May 18, 2015 to ask the Court to appoint you as Lead Plaintiff for the class. A copy of the Complaint can be obtained at www.pomerantzlaw.com. To discuss this action, contact Robert S. Willoughby at [email protected] or 888.476.6529 (or 888.4-POMLAW), toll free, x237. Those who inquire by e-mail are encouraged to include their mailing address, telephone number, and number of shares purchased.
SQM is engaged in the production and distribution of specialty plant nutrients, iodine and its derivatives, lithium and its derivatives, potassium chloride and potassium sulfate, industrial chemicals, and other commodity fertilizers.
The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company's business, operational and compliance policies. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) money from SQM was channeled illicitly to electoral campaigns for the Independent Democratic Union ("UDI"), Chile's largest conservative party; (2) the Company lacked adequate internal controls over financial reporting; and (3) as a result of the foregoing, the Company's financial statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.
Chile's Attorney General announced on February 24, 2015 that he would lead the investigation into the escalating bribery and tax evasion scandal involving the financial firm Banco Penta ("Penta" or the "Penta Group"), a corruption scandal which has embroiled numerous politicians across the country's political spectrum. According to charges later lodged against Carlos Alberto Delano and Carlos Eugenio Lavin, the two Penta founders used fake expense receipts from family members to lower their taxable income and allegedly made illegal payments to parliamentary candidates and a deputy minister.
On February 26, 2015, SQM issued the first of a series of disclosures, which, for the first time, publicly linked the Company to the ongoing UDI contribution scandal and ultimately culminated in the termination of the Chief Executive Officer and resignation of three SQM Board members. The Company disclosed in a press release that, at the request of the Chairman of the Board of SQM, an extraordinary Board meeting was held to analyze the ongoing political scandal in and the Attorney General's investigation. In such meeting, the Board resolved to establish a special committee comprising of Board members Wolf Von Appen, José María Eyzaguirre Baeza, and Juan Antonio Guzmán Molinari.
On March 11, 2015, SQM disclosed that its Board of Directors would meet the next day to evaluate the request by the Public Prosecutor for delivery of certain information pertaining to the alleged bribery scandal.
On March 16, 2015, the Company announced that it had turned over all of the information requested by the Public Prosecutor in the March 6, 2015 Letter to the Chilean Internal Revenue Service for the last six years, which the Company purported was the proper authority to review such information. Moreover, the Company also announced that the Board had agreed to terminate CEO Patricio Contesse effectively immediately. In the prior weeks, Contesse had attempted to block the Company's decision to turn over the documents.
As a result of these partial disclosures, SQM stock consistently traded downward, from a closing price of $26.17 per share on February 25, 2015, to close at $22.10 per share on March 17, 2015, a decline of 15.55% on unusually heavy trading volume during that period.
On March 18, 2015, SQM issued a press release indicating that the three representatives on its Board from Canadian stakeholder Potash Corporation, SQM Vice Chairman Wayne Brownlee, who also serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Potash Corporation, and directors Jose Maria Eyzaguirre and Alejandro Montero, had resigned the prior day.
As a result of this news, shares of SQM fell an additional $3.45 per share, or more than 15.6%, on extremely heavy volume, to close at $18.65 per share on March 18, 2015.
The Pomerantz Firm, with offices in New York, Chicago, Florida, and San Diego, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, the Pomerantz Firm pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 70 years later, the Pomerantz Firm continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomerantzlaw.com.
Robert S. Willoughby
SOURCE Pomerantz LLP