Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SEC Settles Fraud Charges Against Former U.S. Foodservice VP

The SEC settled charges against Brian Spears, a former Vice President of Purchasing at U.S. Foodservice (USF). The SEC alleged that Spears and others at USF, then a subsidiary of Royal Ahold (Koninklijke Ahold N.V.) (Ahold), engaged in a large-scale fraud that, for fiscal years 2001 and 2002, materially overstated operating income by an aggregate amount of approximately $700 million.

The Commission's complaint further alleged that Spears and others at USF induced third parties to confirm false information to USF's outside auditors. Spears and others at USF did this to make it falsely appear that amounts recorded on USF's books and records as accounts receivable were earned. As alleged in the complaint, Spears called vendors at USF's 2001 fiscal year-end and 2002 fiscal year-end and worked with others at USF to convince the vendors to sign the confirmation letters and return them to USF's auditors.

Spears has agreed to settle the Commission's action, without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint. The final judgment orders disgorgement of $45,000 and prejudgment interest thereon in the amount of $15,547, but waives payment of all disgorgement and prejudgment interest and does not impose a civil penalty, based on the sworn representations in Spears' Statement of Financial Condition and other documents and information submitted to the Commission. The final judgment also bars Spears from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years. The settlement is subject to approval by the Court.

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