IBM faces questions over financial transaction

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering a civil action against IBM for possible violation of US securities...

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering a civil action against IBM for possible violation of US securities law.

IBM said it had received a "Wells Notice" from the SEC in relation to an investigation into how an IBM customer, Dollar General, accounted for a specific transaction with IBM's Retail Stores Solutions unit.

The SEC is trying to determine whether IBM's unit, which sells electronic cash registers, had any illegal involvement in Dollar General's mis-statement of its 2000 results in regard to that transaction.

Dollar General said it had also received a Wells Notice from the SEC about the 14 January 2002 restatement of its financial results for the company's financial years from 1998 to 2000.

Under the Wells process, individuals involved in an investigation are invited to present written statements to the commission explaining why they believe the SEC should not bring an enforcement action against them before SEC staff make a formal recommendation for or against civil action.

IBM said it paid Dollar General $11m for "certain used equipment as part of a sale of IBM replacement equipment in Dollar General's 2000 fourth financial quarter".

IBM revealed it was being investigated by the SEC over the matter last June.

IBM employee in its Sales and Distribution unit has also received a Wells Notice from the SEC in connection with the investigation.

IBM is co-operating with the SEC on the Dollar General investigation as well as on a separate SEC investigation relating to the recognition of revenue by IBM in 2000 and 2001 involving "certain types of customer transactions, which is not the subject of this Wells Notice", IBM said.

Last week IBM's Korean subsidiary announced the dismissal of three of its employees, including an executive, who have been indicted on charges of using bribery to secure government contracts.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service



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