Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged TheStreet Inc., which operates the website TheStreet.com, and three executives for their roles in an accounting fraud that artificially inflated company revenues and misstated operating income to investors.
The SEC alleges that TheStreet Inc. filed false financial reports throughout 2008 by reporting revenue from fraudulent transactions at a subsidiary it had acquired the previous year. The co-presidents of the subsidiary – Gregg Alwine and David Barnett – entered into sham transactions with friendly counterparties that had little or no economic substance. They also fabricated and backdated contracts and other documents to facilitate the fraudulent accounting. Barnett is additionally charged with misleading TheStreet’s auditor to believe that the subsidiary had performed services to earn revenue on a specific transaction when in fact it did not perform the services. The SEC also alleges that TheStreet’s former chief financial officer Eric Ashman caused the company to report revenue before it had been earned.
The three executives agreed to pay financial penalties and accept officer-and-director bars to settle the SEC’s charges.