Tag Archives: Fraud

The Enforcement Division Found Evidence How?????

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

Earlier in March the Enforcement Division announced a settled case against homebuilder Desarrolladora Homex S.A.B. de C.V. This company fraudulently inflated revenues by reporting the sale of over 100,000 homes that had never been built or sold! This was a huge fraud, over $3 billion!

All of that is interesting, but what is really fascinating is how the SEC found that the homes had never been built. They used satellite imagery! You can see one of the pictures here.

We are tempted to say “watch the skies”, but that sounds too much like a 50’s sci-fi movie trailer…..

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

A Bit of Perspective about Clawbacks in the News

If you are involved in SEC reporting, you have likely been hearing about clawbacks of executive compensation. The SEC, as required by Dodd/Frank, has proposed a new rule about clawbacks. You can see the SEC’s press release about the proposed rule at:


The press release also has a good summary of the proposal and a link to the text of the proposed rule. (The link is near the top of the press release on the right side of the page.)

This rule proposal has created a fair amount of commentary and discussion, as anyone would expect.

That said, courtesy of Section 304 of SOX, clawbacks have been in play before this proposed rule. And this SOX provision has some teeth. Diebold Corporation, in the wake of a settled accounting fraud enforcement action, was required to clawback compensation from its CEO. Here is an interesting quote from the press release announcing the various enforcements:

“The complaint does not allege that (the CEO) engaged in the fraud.”

You can read the release at:


So, what is the reason that Dodd/Frank requires more rule making about clawbacks? One of the principal differences concerning clawbacks between Dodd/Frank and SOX is that SOX requires clawbacks when a restatement arises from accounting fraud.

Dodd/Frank moves things to a higher level because it will require clawbacks for any material restatement, regardless of cause. So even an unintentional error will trigger a clawback requirement.

In a sense, this is a bit like the SOX whistleblower hotline compared to the Dodd/Frank whistleblower hotline. SOX requires an anonymous hotline to the audit committee, Dodd/Frank goes a step further and created the anonymous hotline directly to the SEC.

As always, your thoughts and reactions are welcome!


The Whistleblower’s Saga

Whistleblowers are much in the news. With stories ranging from Jim Marchese of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” fame collecting his second whistleblower legal settlement, to the SEC announcing a $1 million dollar whistleblower payout to a compliance officer, the volume of whistleblower activity is clearly increasing.

(The SEC Release is at:

www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2015-73.html )

Whistleblowers clearly play a key role in the detection of fraud. The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower says: “Assistance and information from a whistleblower who knows of possible securities law violations can be among the most powerful weapons in the law enforcement arsenal of the Securities and Exchange Commission”.

If you would like to get to the story of how blowing the whistle affected one person’s life and career, skip to the links at the end of this entry. But first, here is some background about how regulators have tried to create paths for whistleblowers.

Congress has built ways for whistleblowers to do what their label says, blow the whistle when they find something that is wrong, a major focus in the efforts to combat fraud.

The Sarbanes-Oxley act created a whistleblower’s hotline to the audit committee and required that whistleblowers be able to blow the whistle anonymously. The Dodd-Frank Act created a separate incentivized hotline directly to the SEC. A whistleblower using the Dodd-Frank hotline can also remain anonymous and may even be entitled to cash rewards if the matter about which they blow the whistle results in penalties against the company.

Importantly, companies are not allowed to try and restrict employees in blowing the whistle. This is an important enough issue that the SEC has enforced against companies and levied fines when companies try to limit how employees can contact the SEC. A very recent example is against KBR’s use of a confidentiality agreement containing overly restrictive language, summarized at:


You can learn more about the Dodd-Frank hotline and the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower at:


One would think with all this legislative and SEC support being a whistleblower is becoming an easier path to walk. However, it is still true that few events in a persons professional career are more stressful and disruptive than blowing the whistle.

Marketplace and Propublica have put together an interesting study of how one whistleblower’s path unfolded. It is a great example with lots of gray issues, a prolonged period of uncertainty, and many other complications. You can read and hear about it at: