Accounting firm used by Trump Media hit with ‘massive fraud’ charge

Fraud alleged to have impacted upwards of 500 public companies, according to Securities and Exchange Commission

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
Friday 03 May 2024 18:32 BST
Comments
Related video: Trump backtracks on false claim about gag order

The independent accounting firm for Trump Media & Technology Group has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with substantial fraud.

BF Borgers, and its owner Benjamin F. Borgers, face allegations that they were running a “sham audit mill,” the SEC said in a statement on Friday.

No allegations of wrongdoing against Trump Media, the owner of Truth Social, were put forward by the commission.

The SEC alleges that Colorado-based firm committed “deliberate and systemic failures,” such as “fabricating” audit documents and falsely telling clients that their work was compliant with accounting standards.

The commission alleges that “massive” fraud occurred between January 2021 and June last year. It’s alleged to have impacted 1,500 SEC filings and upwards of 500 public companies.

Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement that “Ben Borgers and his audit firm, BF Borgers, were responsible for one of the largest wholesale failures by gatekeepers in our financial markets”.

He added: “As a result of their fraudulent conduct, they not only put investors and markets at risk by causing public companies to incorporate non-compliant audits and reviews into more than 1,500 filings with the Commission but also undermined trust and confidence in our markets.”

In order to settle the charges, the firm has agreed to pay a penalty of $12m, and Mr Borgers agreed to pay a penalty of $2m.

Both the firm and Mr Borgers agreed to “permanent suspensions” from appearing before the commission.

“Because investors rely on the audited financial statements of public companies when making their investment decisions, the accountants and accounting firms that audit those statements play a critical role in our financial markets,” Mr Grewal said.

BF Borgers is located in Lakewood, Colorado
BF Borgers is located in Lakewood, Colorado (Screenshot / Google Maps)

“Borgers and his firm completely abandoned that role, but thanks to the painstaking work of the SEC staff, Borgers and his sham audit mill have been permanently shut down.”

The order from the SEC also found that the firm didn’t properly “supervise and review” its audits.

“Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings as to each of them, BF Borgers and Benjamin Borgers both consented to an order, effective immediately, pursuant to which they are ordered to pay civil penalties and are denied the privilege of appearing or practicing before the Commission as an accountant,” the SEC said in its statement.

In another statement on Friday, the SEC told companies that they would have to find new accounting firms.

“Trump Media looks forward to working with new auditing partners in accordance with today’s SEC order,” Trump Media spokesperson Shannon Devine told The Independent.

Filings show that Borgers was Trump Media’s independent accounting firm before it went public in March. Later that same month, the Trump Media audit committee gave the green light to hiring Borgers as the accounting firm for the now-public company.

The Independent has contacted BF Borgers for comment.

Former president Donald Trump is the chair and majority owner of Trump Media, and while the group received a $9bn valuation on Wall Street, it doesn’t create much revenue. Truth Social also remains a small platform among other social media apps.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in