Monday, October 5, 2009

Dell Settles with SEC

Dell Inc. said last week that it will improve its accounting and corporate governance rules as part of a settlement tied to an SEC investigation.

Dell will also pay $1.75 million in legal fees, according to a settlement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC investigation into Dell's accounting was made public in 2006. Various shareholder groups have filed lawsuits against Dell for misrepresention of its financial results while insiders profited from selling their own shares at prices that were inflated by the overstated results.

Dell restated results for 2003 through 2007 after an internal audit found it overstated sales by $359 million and profit by $92 million during those years. The SEC continues its probe.

Under the settlement filed with the SEC, Dell agreed to make sure at least 60 percent of its board members are from outside the company. Dell also said it would train board members and give directors unrestricted access to Dell's employees.

Dell had already implemented some changes as the lawsuit moved through the courts. Under the settlement the changes must be extended and enforced for four years.

Among them:
  • an accounting code of conduct
  • enhanced ethics, compliance and insider-trading training
  • creation of a global team of accountants to focus on revenue recognition issues
  • provision to let employees make anonymous complaints about auditing or internal controls.

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