Questionable company payouts of 24 million yuan (HK$27.74 million) were partly to blame for a dramatic plunge in the share price of Beijing-based Duoyuan Printing on the New York Stock Exchange last week, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The manufacturer of offset printing presses announced on September 13 that several executives had resigned, including its chief executive officer and chief financial officer, and that it had fired its accountants from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. The announcement caused Duoyuan Printing's stock to lose more than half its value in a single day, leading a US law firm to file a class action lawsuit against the company on behalf of investors. The problems stem from concerns raised by Deloitte after it was hired as the company's auditor in May, according to a statement Duoyuan Printing filed with US financial regulators. In particular, Deloitte challenged the 'authenticity' of supporting documents related to millions in marketing and trade show expenses. It also questioned inconsistencies in the company's information about some of its vendors and distributors, and initiated an investigation. But the accounting firm was not satisfied with its access to bank statements. Duoyuan Printing chairman Guo Wenhua sought to reassure shareholders in a conference call on September 15 that ditching Deloitte was a practical measure. Spurred by frustration with the auditor's processes, he said, the move was intended to ensure that the annual report was filed on time. Guo was 'surprised' by the decision of several executives to quit, and firmly denied any company wrongdoing. 'I'm confident that when the independent investigation is completed, these suggestions will be shown to be completely untrue,' Guo told investors. He said that the trade show expenses were part of the company's normal marketing budget. The manufacturer's audit committee chairman, James Zhang, wrote in a letter of resignation that replacing a Big 5 accounting firm in the middle of an investigation of financial irregularities sent out the wrong message. Zhang predicted the risk of a drop in share prices and investor lawsuit as well as a potential delay in the filing of the company's annual report and investigation by the SEC. Duoyuan Printing has not yet named a replacement accounting firm - another risk, in Zhang's eyes. Naoko Hatakeyama and Paula Dobriansky, who is a former US special envoy to Northern Ireland, quit the board after it voted to replace Deloitte. 'I indicated my position that the company should address all allegations directly and expeditiously,' wrote Dobriansky. Chief financial officer William Suh also quit the board, as did chief executive officer Christopher Holbert, who stayed on at the company as vice-president of global markets. US law firm Pomerantz Haudek Grossman & Gross filed a class action lawsuit against the company in a New York court, alleging that it deceived investors about internal management problems and misstated financial results. It is not every day that a company dismissed a respected accounting firm mid-investigation, or that its executives resign en masse, or air their dissatisfaction so publicly, said Phillip Kim, a lawyer at The Rosen Law Firm in New York. 'Each of these things alone is on the uncommon side,' Kim said. 'When all happen at once, that's quite unusual.'