The SEC announced that it has settled two fraud cases involving alleged accounting failures that left investors without accurate views of company finances. Technology manufacturer Logitech International will pay $7.5 million to settle the charges, while three former executives at battery manufacturer Ener1 will pay penalties for the company materially overstating revenues and assets for year end 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.
Logitech. In the action against Logitech, the SEC said that the company agreed to settle charges that it fraudulently inflated its financial results to meet earnings guidance and committed other accounting related violations during a five year period. In addition, Logitech’s controller at the time, Michael Doktorczyk, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 and Sherralyn Bolles, the then-director of accounting, agreed to pay $25,000 for violations related to the company’s warranty accrual accounting and failure to amortize intangibles from an earlier acquisition.
Logitech, Doktorczyk, and Bolles also agreed to cease and desist from committing future violations of the relevant securities laws.
Separately, the SEC filed a complaint in federal court against the firm’s former chief financial officer Erik Bardman and former controller Jennifer Wolf. The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, alleges that they deliberately minimized the write-down of millions of dollars of excess component parts for which Logitech had excess inventory.
Logitech’s former CEO, Gerald Quindlen, who was not accused of any misconduct, returned $194,487 in incentive-based compensation and stock sale profits received during the period of accounting violations, pursuant to Section 304(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, according to the SEC.
Ener1. The settlement by former executives at Ener1 involves alleged overstated revenues and assets. The misstatements stemmed from management’s failure to impair investments and receivables related to an electric car manufacturer that was one of its largest customers.
Charles Gassenheimer, the former CEO and chairman of the board, agreed to pay a penalty of $100,000 to settle the violations. Jeffrey Seidel, the firm’s former chief financial officer agreed to a $50,000 penalty, while Robert Kamischke, former chief accounting officer, agreed to pay $30,000.
The SEC also settled an action involving Robert Hesselgesser, the engagement partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers audit of Ener1’s financial statements. The SEC said that Hesselgesser violated PCAOB and professional auditing standards when he failed to perform sufficient procedures to support his audit conclusions that Ener1 management had appropriately accounted for its assets and revenues.
Hesselgesser agreed to be suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as an accountant. He can apply for reinstatement after two years.
In settling the matters, none of the defendants admitted or denied the SEC findings.
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