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Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Monday, August 9, 2010

SEC Charges Seattle Skin Care Retailer with Accounting Fraud

The SEC charged International Commercial Televison Inc. (ICTV), a Seattle-area skin care retailer, and its former chief financial officer with fraudulently boosting earnings by reporting sales of anti-aging products promoted through Home Shopping Network infomercials while the products still sat unsold in the company's warehouse.  The SEC alleges that Karl Redekopp, the former CFO, turned millions of dollars of quarterly losses into profits by falsely accounting for ICTV's sales of the Derma Wand, a skin care appliance that purports to reduce wrinkles and improve skin appearance. Redekopp fraudulently recognized revenue before the Home Shopping Network had actually sold or delivered the product to viewers. He also improperly recognized revenue before a free trial period offered by the company had expired, and failed to reverse revenue from products that had been returned. Redekopp's misconduct caused the company to falsely report millions of dollars in excess revenue in 2007 and 2008.

The SEC's complaint against Redekopp, filed in federal district court in Tacoma, Wash., alleges that Redekopp recorded "sales" of products that had not been shipped or that the customer was not obligated to pay for. Redekopp's fraudulent accounting resulted in ICTV adjusting net sales by more than $3.7 million over a five-quarter period in 2007 and 2008, negating all originally reported net income for those periods to restated net losses. The SEC's complaint charges Redekopp with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 10(b) and 13(b)(5) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rules 10b-5, 13a-14, and 13b2-1 thereunder, and aiding and abetting the violations of Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, and 13a-13 thereunder. The SEC seeks a permanent injunction, a financial penalty, and an order barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

In a separate complaint, the SEC charged ICTV for its misleading financial statements. Without admitting or denying the allegations, ICTV agreed to settle the charges by consenting to a final judgment permanently enjoining the company from future violations of Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act, and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, and 13a-13 thereunder.


The SEC also instituted administrative proceedings against ICTV's former outside auditors Steven H. Dohan, Nancy L. Brown and their Miami-area firm Dohan + Company CPAs as well as Erez Bahar, a Canadian Chartered Accountant who lives in Vancouver.  According to the SEC's order, Dohan, Brown, and Bahar were responsible for the issuance of an unqualified audit report stating that ICTV's financial statements were fairly reported in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and that the audit had been conducted in accordance with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) auditing standards. The SEC's Division of Enforcement alleges that the former auditors failed to identify the material accounting deficiencies and violations of GAAP that formed the basis of the SEC's enforcement action against Redekopp. The Division of Enforcement alleges that Dohan, Brown, Bahar, and Dohan + Company CPAs engaged in improper professional conduct under Rule 102(e) of the Commission's Rules of Practice. An administrative hearing will be scheduled to determine whether remedial sanctions are appropriate.

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