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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Luckin Coffee, a Chinese rival to Starbucks that went public in the U.S. last year at a $4.3 billion valuation, fired both CEO Jenny Zhiya Qian and COO Jian Liu on Tuesday after an investigation into accounting fraud.

The backstory: Luckin disclosed in early April that its COO had fabricated around $310 million in 2019 sales — numbers the company had relied on while selling investors on both a secondary share sale and convertible bond offering.

  • That reveal caused Luckin's stock price to fall by around 80%. Today, the company's market cap is just north of $1 billion.
  • It also has sparked major due diligence questions for the Wall Street banks that led both Luckin's IPO and its subsequent offerings.
  • The company also placed six other employees on leave as a result of the investigation.

What they're saying ... Luckin today issued the following statement:

"During its ongoing internal investigation, the Special Committee of the Board has brought to the attention of the Board evidence that sheds more light on the fabricated transactions described in the press release issued by the Company on April 2, 2020. After considering such information, the Board has terminated Ms. Jenny Zhiya Qian and Mr. Jian Liu from the positions of the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Operating Officer, respectively. The Board also demanded and received from Ms. Qian and Mr. Liu their resignations from the Board. In addition to Ms. Qian and Mr. Liu, since the beginning of the Internal Investigation, the Company has placed six other employees, who were involved in or had the knowledge of the fabricated transactions, on suspension or leave."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.