by Aaron Burns


HUNTERSVILLE – The clock is ticking in Lime Energy’s efforts to overcome a money mismanagement investigation and mend fences with its shareholders.

Securities and shareholder rights firm Robbins Arroyo LLP, based in San Diego, is investigating the Huntersville company for illegally reporting revenue early, fabricating revenue and not filing their quarterly financial reports last year.

Lime announced in a release last July the company was undergoing an internal investigation into the 2010 and 2011 financial reports. Lime’s stock dropped 45 percent after the announcement, from $2.03 to $1.12 per share.

Lime announced in a Jan. 14 release it had received a notification letter from NASDAQ, regarding no filings for June 30 or Sept. 30 last year.

The Charlotte Business Journal reported NASDAQ granted a stay of suspension for Lime on Jan. 30. The stay enables Lime to continue trading on the stock exchange until Lime's delisting appeal is heard. NASDAQ had notified Lime of its intent to delist the company from its exchange on Jan. 18, but Lime appealed the decision.

Now, Lime won't be delisted on Feb. 2. The NASDAQ Listing Qualifications Hearings Panel granted the extension.

“The company continues to work diligently to complete the accounting review of its financial statements contained in its periodic reports for the years ended Dec. 31, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and the quarter ended March 31, 2012, and has made good progress toward completing this review,” Lime's Jan. 14 news release said.

“It currently expects that it will file amendments to those periodic reports on or before March 31, 2013, and to file its delinquent financial statements on or before April 30, 2013.”

Robbins Arroyo, which specializes in protecting shareholders from improprieties, took the case as soon as Lime was unable to file quarterly statements due to the revenue mismanagement.

“Our investigation is still going,” said Greg Del Gaizo, an attorney for Robbins Arroyo.

A team of 10-15 investigators is handling the case for Robbins Arroyo.

Lime was essentially counting and recording money before it received the money, Del Gaizo said.

Lime’s stock price fell to 57 cents per share as of Jan. 30. Del Gaizo said stock prices below $1 and not filing all quarterly reports were what got Lime in trouble with NASDAQ.

“This is a big deal for the company and its shareholders,” he said.

Tom Konrad, the editor of AlternativeEnergyStocks.com and a Forbes contributor, said in a blog post he sold some of his Lime stock but kept most of it.

“The reason for that is mostly my own psychology,” Konrad wrote. “By recognizing some of my losses, I’m less emotionally attached to the idea that Lime has to go up, and I should be able to look at the question more objectively, as information emerges.”

Lime did not respond to voicemails left by the Herald Weekly on Jan. 29 and 30.

Del Gaizo said Lime has as many as 24 million shareholders, which makes it difficult to designate how many shares each person has.

Robbins Arroyo has helped shareholders “realize more than $1 billion of value for themselves and the companies in which they have invested,” according to its website.

“We try to do our best to make sure everyone gets their voice,” Del Gaizo said.