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Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Former Dell Chief Accounting Officer Settles Accounting Fraud Charges

The SEC today charged former Dell Inc. ("Dell") Chief Accounting Officer Robert W. Davis for his role in the company's accounting fraud. Last month, the SEC charged Dell with fraud for materially misstating its operating results from fiscal year 2002 to fiscal year 2005. The SEC's complaint against Davis alleges that he materially misrepresented Dell's financial results by using various "cookie jar" reserves to cover shortfalls in operating results and engaged in other reserve manipulations from FY2002 to FY2005. Davis agreed to pay a $175,000 penalty and to pay disgorgement and pre-judgment interest to settle the SEC's charges.

The SEC separately charged today former Dell Assistant Controller Randall D. Imhoff with aiding and abetting Dell's improper accounting. Imhoff agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty and to pay disgorgement and pre-judgment interest to settle the SEC's charges.

The SEC's complaint against Davis, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleges that he directed the use of "cookie jar" reserves to cover shortfalls in operating results over three years. This fraudulent accounting made it appear that Dell was consistently meeting Wall Street earnings targets through the company's management and operations. The SEC's complaint further alleges that the reserve manipulations allowed Dell to materially misstate its operating expenses as a percentage of revenue - an important financial metric that Dell highlighted to investors. The manipulations also enabled Dell to materially misstate the operating income of its Europe, Middle East and Africa ("EMEA") segment.

In a separate complaint also filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., the SEC alleges that Imhoff aided and abetted Dell's improper use of "cookie jar" reserves and other reserve manipulations to cover shortfalls in Dell's operating results from FY2002 to FY2004. The SEC's complaint alleges that Imhoff, acting under his supervisors' general direction, planned and issued instructions regarding Dell's build-up and use of cookie jar reserves. In an example of his involvement in Dell's other improper reserve manipulations, the SEC's complaint alleges that Imhoff failed to ensure that Dell increased its reserves, as required by GAAP, after learning that an accrual to cover the costs of closing a Dell facility in Texas was inadequate.

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