The Canton, Ohio-based ATM provider Diebold Inc. has agreed to settle an allegedly fraudulent accounting case that inflated the company's earnings by at least $127 million, the SEC said earlier this month.
According to the SEC's complaint against Diebold, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the company manipulated its earnings from at least 2002 through 2007 to meet financial performance forecasts. Diebold's improper accounting practices misstated the company's reported pre-tax earnings by at least $127 million.
Without admitting or denying the SEC's charges, Diebold agreed to pay a $25 million penalty to settle them, the commission said in a June 2 statement. Diebold's former CEO Walden O'Dell agreed to reimburse the company $470,016 in cash bonuses, 30,000 shares of Diebold stock and stock options for 85,000 shares of Diebold stock. The SEC said it has not alleged that O'Dell engaged in fraud. The SEC's case against Diebold's former Chief Financial Officer Gregory Geswein, former controller and later CFO Kevin Krakora, and former Director of Corporate Accounting Sandra Miller is ongoing.
"We are pleased that the settlement with the SEC is final," said Thomas Swidarski, Diebold president/CEO, in a June 2 statement. "Moving forward, we will continue to direct our energy and focus toward the essential work of improving our competitive position and creating value for all our stakeholders while maintaining effective financial controls within our processes."
The SEC alleged that Diebold's financial management received "flash reports," sometimes on a daily basis, comparing the company's actual earnings to analyst earnings forecasts. Diebold's financial management prepared "opportunity lists" of ways to close the gap between the company's actual financial results and analyst forecasts. Many of the opportunities on these lists were fraudulent accounting transactions designed to improperly recognize revenue or otherwise inflate Diebold's financial performance, according to the SEC.
Diebold previously recorded a charge of $25 million to its 2009 first quarter earnings in connection with the penalty to be paid to the SEC.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio said it will not bring criminal charges.