Securities Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SEC Charges Software Company with Bribing Morgan Chase Subsidiary to Get Business

The SEC charged that FalconStor Software, Inc., a Long Island, N.Y., data storage company, misled investors about bribes it paid to obtain business with a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.  FalconStor admitted to the bribery scheme and agreed to pay a $2.9 million penalty and to institute enhanced compliance measures to settle the SEC’s civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The settlement is subject to court approval. FalconStor will pay an additional $2.9 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the EDNY, which filed a related criminal case against the Melville, N.Y., company.

According to the SEC, FalconStor’s now deceased co-founder, chairman, and former chief executive ordered the bribes, which were paid to three executives of the subsidiary, JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, and their relatives, starting in October 2007. Lavish entertainment at casinos, and payments in cash, traveler’s checks, gift cards, and grants of FalconStor options and restricted stock, helped FalconStor secure a multi-million dollar contract with the J.P. Morgan Chase subsidiary, the SEC said.

The J.P. Morgan Chase subsidiary became one of FalconStor’s largest customers and FalconStor touted the relationship in earnings calls and releases as proof of the strength of its products and its strides in moving to direct sales rather than relying on third-party distributors. The SEC said FalconStor never told investors about the bribes and inaccurately recorded the payments as “compensation,” “sales promotion,” or “entertainment” expenses.

FalconStor’s CEO resigned in September 2010, after admitting that he had been involved in improper payments to a customer, and FalconStor’s stock fell by more than 22 percent on the news.

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