Insider Trading, Litigation Concerns, and Auditor Going-Concern Opinions
Posted: 26 Aug 2012 Last revised: 8 Apr 2020
Date Written: August 24, 2012
We investigate whether insider selling affects the likelihood of firms receiving auditor going-concern opinions. Prior studies document significant negative market reactions to the issuance of going-concern opinions, indicating that such opinions convey bad news to investors. Insider sales followed by negative news are likely to attract regulators’ scrutiny and investor class-action lawsuits. Therefore, we predict that, to reduce the risk of litigation, managers have incentives to avoid receiving going-concern opinions after their insider sales by pressuring auditors for clean audit opinions. We evaluate this prediction empirically and find that the probability of receiving a going-concern opinion is negatively associated with the level of insider selling. Further analysis indicates that this negative relation is more pronounced for firms that are economically significant to their auditors but less pronounced when (1) auditors have concerns about litigation exposure and reputation loss and when (2) audit committees are more independent. Finally, the negative relation between going-concern opinions and insider sales is significantly weakened after SOX.
Keywords: Insider trading, litigation risk, going-concern opinion, SOX
JEL Classification: G18, M42, G48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation