JPMorgan and Danske Among Funds Exposed to Gowex Fraud

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Danske Bank A/S funds are among investors in Let’s Gowex SA, the Spanish Internet startup that’s filing for insolvency after saying it falsified accounts for at least four years.

JPMorgan’s Euroland Focus fund had 2.9 percent of its holdings invested in Gowex as of May 31, while the bank’s Europe Focus fund had 2 percent of its portfolio dedicated to the stock, according to the most recently available data on their website. Danske’s Europe Absolute fund had 2.7 percent of its portfolio invested in Gowex as of June 30, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Gowex founder and Chief Executive Officer Jenaro Garcia resigned on July 5, taking responsibility for the accounting fraud after a 60 percent drop in share prices in the wake of a report last week by short-seller Gotham City Research LLP saying the company inflated revenue.

“The responsibility isn’t with just one person, it’s also with the auditor and market regulator,” said Javier Flores at investor group Asinver, who puts the number of individual Gowex shareholders at some 5,000. “The damage isn’t only economic; it’s also about the reputation of the Spanish market.”

Jens Larsson, Danske Europe Absolute’s portfolio manager, declined to comment, as did a Danske Capital spokesman. A JPMorgan spokeswoman in Madrid declined to comment.

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Gowex’s two largest shareholders, Cash Devices SL and Biotelgy VC, are controlled by Garcia, according to the company’s 2010 initial public offering documents. They are followed by Javier Solsona, a founding executive who sits on Gowex’s board. Together they own about 60 percent of the company.

Excluding the insiders, JPMorgan and Danske are among the top 10 institutional investors in Gowex, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Others include Banco Santander SA and Henderson Global Investors. Banco Santander and Henderson representatives declined to comment.

Gowex reported a sevenfold jump in revenue over three years, with sales reaching 183 million euros ($249 million) in 2013. Since the beginning of 2013, the stock has risen 11-fold to peak at 26.34 euros in April this year. They lost 60 percent over two days last week, trading at 7.92 euros before it was suspended. The decline wiped more than 860 million euros off the Madrid-based company’s market value.

Gotham said Gowex’s “actual” wireless revenue is at most 10 percent of what the company reported, and about 90 percent of its telecommunications revenue “originated from undisclosed related parties.”

Gowex last week called Gotham’s report defamatory and said it mixed facts with lies. In a release on its website today, Gotham said Gowex’s statements about the researcher “are demonstratively false, malicious and defamatory.” However, Gotham said it won’t pursue legal action against Gowex.

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