Diebold pays $25m over accounting fraud charges

Diebold pays $25m over accounting fraud charges

ATM manufacturer Diebold has agreed to pay $25 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges of fraudulent accounting designed to inflate earnings.

The SEC charged the company and three former financial executives over the affair, alleging they received "flash reports" - sometimes on a daily basis - comparing actual earnings to analyst 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 financial performance, says the regulator.

The manipulation lasted at least from 2002 to 2007 and the improper accounting practices misstated the company's reported pre-tax earnings by at least $127 million, according to the SEC.

The company had already agreed in principle to the $25 million settlement last March and has not admitted or denied the charges.

In addition to the $25 million settlement, Diebold's former CEO Walden O'Dell has agreed to reimburse cash bonuses, stock, and stock options under the "clawback" provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Although the SEC does not accuse O'Dell of engaging in the fraud he will reimburse the company $470,016 in cash bonuses, 30,000 shares of Diebold stock, and stock options for 85,000 shares.

A case against Diebold's former CFO Gregory Geswein, former controller and later CFO Kevin Krakora, and former director of corporate accounting Sandra Miller is ongoing.

Robert Khuzami, director, division of enforcement, SEC, says: "Diebold's financial executives borrowed from many different chapters of the deceptive accounting playbook to fraudulently boost the company's bottom line. When executives disregard their professional obligations to investors, both they and their companies face significant legal consequences."

Thomas Swidarski, president and CEO, Diebold, says: "We are pleased that the settlement with the SEC is final," said "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."

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