Tales of shady business practices abound in China - fake revenues, phony invoices, sham factories - but until recently, the problem seemed confined mostly to Chinese companies.
Concern is growing about risks to U.S.-based multinationals in a country where American audit regulators are locked out by the Chinese government and bribery and fraud are routine.
Questions about transparency and integrity weigh heavily on China, the world's second-largest economy, as it assumes greater economic leadership and responsibility. These doubts test its ability to adhere to international standards.
Stories of business deception - confirmed by corporate sleuths, former business executives, court filings and experts on accounting in China - are commonplace.
There was the Chinese company that billed itself as a high-tech television screen manufacturer, but had a factory that turned out to be a man selling fireworks from a shack.
Or there was the Chinese biodiesel plant that sat idle for months, then sprang to life one day - when investors showed up for a tour - only to fall silent again.
Last month, there was the scandal at a Chinese unit of Caterpillar Inc (CAT), the world's largest construction equipment manufacturer, based in Peoria, Illinois.
On January 18, Caterpillar disclosed "deliberate, multi-year, coordinated accounting misconduct" at the Siwei unit of ERA Mining Machinery. Caterpillar said it would write off most of the $654 million it had paid to acquire ERA only months earlier.
Caterpillar's Siwei stumble was not the first for a U.S. multinational in China, but the scope of the problem stood out.