Sunday, July 22, 2012
The SEC recently charged Huron Consulting Group Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm, and two of its former executives with accounting violations that overstated the company’s income for multiple years.
The SEC found that Huron failed to properly record redistributions of sales proceeds by the selling shareholders of four firms acquired by Huron. The selling shareholders redistributed the money to employees at those firms who stayed on to work at Huron as well as other Huron employees and themselves. Because the redistributions were contingent on the employees’ continued employment with Huron, based on the achievement of personal performance measures, or not clearly for a purpose other than compensation, Huron should have recorded the redistributions as compensation expense in its financial statements. By failing to do so, Huron overstated its pre-tax income to the public. Former chief financial officer Gary Burge and former controller and chief accounting officer Wayne Lipski oversaw these accounting decisions at Huron.
Huron agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying a $1 million penalty, and Burge and Lipski agreed to pay a total of nearly $300,000 in disgorgement and penalties to settle the charges against them.