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Accounting Fraud

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February 22, 2022

Healthcare company Baxter International Inc. and two of its former executives have settled claims with the SEC related to reporting of its intra-company foreign exchange transactions.  Baxter agreed to pay a penalty of $18 million; the company’s former treasurer and assistant treasurer will pay penalties of $125,000 and $100,000, respectively.  The SEC alleged that in recording foreign currency transactions recognized by its subsidiaries, Baxter used a foreign exchange rate convention that was not in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles; the company then leveraged this FX convention by engaging in intra-company transactions for the sole purpose of generating FX gains or avoiding FX losses, resulting in material misstatements of its net income.  SEC

Top Ten SEC and CFTC Recoveries of 2021

Posted  01/7/22
Top Ten Sign with Letters
As we recently detailed, 2021 proved to be a blockbuster year for whistleblowers under the CFTC and SEC Whistleblower ProgramsSeven of the ten largest whistleblower awards of 2021 were made to SEC and CFTC whistleblowers, including a massive $200 million CFTC award that was roughly twice as large as all prior CFTC awards combined.  In total, the SEC paid more awards—both in total dollars and individual...

December 6, 2021

Dialysis provider American Renal Associates Holdings, Inc. and three of its former financial executives have entered into a settlement agreement resolving allegations of accounting fraud; ARA will pay a $2 million civil penalty. The company and it executives allegedly manipulated revenue by improperly recognizing payments from insurance companies for patient services, overstating net income by more than 30% in 2017 and by more than 200% for the first three quarters of 2018.  The company issued restated financial in 2019.  SEC

December 1, 2021

The former CFO of Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc., Peter R. Armbruster, has been sentenced to two years in prison for participating in a complex accounting fraud scheme that resulted in the company filing materially false statements with the SEC, and eventually tens of millions of dollars in losses to investors.  Armbruster was found to have misrepresented Roadrunner’s expenses, which falsely inflated the company’s reported income.  DOJ

September 3, 2021

The Kraft Heinz Company and two of its former executives will pay $62 million to resolve charges that between 2015 and 2018 the company falsely reported cost savings, including by recognizing unearned discounts from suppliers and maintaining false and misleading supplier contracts. In 2019, Kraft Heinz restated its financials, correcting a total of $208 million in improperly-recognized cost savings.  The SEC alleged that the company did not have effective internal accounting controls in its procurement division, and that former COO Eduardo Pelleissone and former Chief Procurement Officer Klaus Hoffman ignored red flags that expenses were not being accurately reported.  Pelleissone and Hoffman will pay civil penalties of $300,000 and $100,000, respectively.  SEC

August 24, 2021

Healthcare Services Group, Inc., which provides housekeeping, dining, and other services to healthcare facilities, will pay $6 million to resolve charges of improper accounting.  The SEC alleged that the company failed to comply with GAAP in 2014 and 2015 by failing to timely accrue for and disclose material loss contingencies related to litigation against the company despite evidence that liability was probable and reasonably estimable.  As a result, the company was able to report earnings per share that matched market expectations.  The SEC investigation resulted from its “EPS Initiative,” which uses data analytics to identify improper accounting and disclosure practices.  HCSG's former CFO John C. Shea and its controller, Derya Warner, will pay penalties of $50,000 and $10,000, respectively.  SEC

August 2, 2021

Ernst & Young LLP and three of its audit partners, along with William Stiehl, who was serving as the chief accounting officer of a public company, collectively agreed to pay more than $10 million to resolve SEC claims of wrongdoing with respect to EY’s pursuit of audit business from the public company.  EY and its partners were alleged to have solicited and received confidential competitive intelligence and confidential audit committee information from Stiehl during the issuer’s auditor’s selection process, in violation of auditor independence rules.  EY agreed to pay $10 million and comply with a detailed set of undertakings for a period of two years; the individual auditors agreed to pay civil monetary penalties between $15,000 and $50,000 and to be suspended from appearing or practicing before the Commission for times ranging from one to three years; Stiehl agreed to pay a civil monetary penalty of $51,000 and to be suspended from appearing or practicing before the Commission for two years.  SEC

May 3, 2021

Sporting goods manufacturer Under Armour Inc. agreed to pay $9 million to resolve SEC allegations that the company engaged in  accounting fraud.  The SEC alleged that in an effort to meet analyst sales forecasts, Under Armour began to "pull forward" revenue by recognizing as current revenue orders that customers had placed for delivery in future quarters, and did not disclose this practice to investors.  SEC

February 24, 2021

William Taylor, the former chief operating officer of publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company MiMedx Group, Inc., was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a fine or $250,000 following his jury trial conviction on charges arising from accounting fraud.  The government presented evidence at trial that Taylor authorized the false recognition of revenue upon the shipment of MiMedx products to distributors despite knowing that the GAAP criteria for such revenue recognition had not been met.  Instead, MiMedx had promised the distributors that they could return the product or did not need to pay for it, in some cases knowing that the distributors were unable to pay for the product.  As a result, MiMedx reported materially inflated revenue in 2015.  USAO SDNY

Top Ten SEC and CFTC Recoveries of 2020

Posted  01/15/21
top ten list
Despite its many shortcomings, 2020 did bring great news for whistleblowers: record-breaking growth in the CFTC and SEC Whistleblower Programs, as well as massive enforcement actions by both agencies.  In this post, we will detail the Top Ten SEC and CFTC recoveries of 2020 in cases other than FCPA enforcement.  As detailed below, the SEC netted billions of dollars in penalties and restitution from companies accused...
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