Former CA chief Sanjay Kumar indicted on fraud charges

Computer Associates International Inc. CEO Sanjay Kumar and CA’s former head of worldwide sales, Stephen Richards, have been indicted on charges of securities fraud conspiracy and obstruction of justice, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday afternoon.

In addition, CA’s former general counsel and senior vice-president, Stephen Woghin, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to similar charges for his role in what the government called a company-wide accounting fraud scheme.

The indictments of the two former executives were returned by a federal grand jury on Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y., and unsealed Wednesday. The 10-count indictment was announced by Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Masukopf during a Washington news conference.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that CA has been charged with, and accepted responsibility for, the illegal conduct of its former executives and has agreed to pay US$225 million to compensate victims of the fraud, among other reparations. If CA abides by the terms of the agreement after an 18-month period, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has agreed not to prosecute CA. That deal, however, doesn’t protect any individuals from prosecution, the DOJ said in a statement.

Comey said the defendants are “accused of perpetrating a massive accounting fraud that cost public investors hundreds of millions of dollars when it collapsed.” The defendants “allegedly tried to cover up their crimes by lying,” he said.

The indictment lays out the so-called “35-day month” as the centerpiece of the accounting fraud scheme. According to the government, CA engaged in a systematic practice of fraudulently recording and reporting within a fiscal quarter revenue associated with license agreements, even though those agreements hadn’t been finalized and signed during the period.

Kumar and Richards, the indictment says, personally advanced the goals of the 35-day practice. Kumar and former CA Chief Financial Officer Ira Zar kept CA’s books open at the end of fiscal periods in fiscal year 2000 and sales managers were told by them to finalize and then backdate license agreements. The government said the extent of the fraud wasn’t known until April 26, when CA filed forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that showed $2.2 billion of revenue was booked prematurely.

CA focused on the agreements reached with DOJ and SEC officials in a statement and during an afternoon Web conference. “With these agreements, CA has taken a critical step in closing this deeply troubling chapter in its history,” said CA Chairman Lewis Ranieri. In addition to the $225 million payment, CA agreed to actively assist government investigators in an attempt to recover compensation from any present or former CA officer or employee involved in improper conduct at the company.

Any prosecution of the company was deferred for 18 months, and may be dismissed if CA is found to have complied with the terms of the agreement, CA officials said.

That deferral period caused one analyst, Stephen Elliott at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, to note that the situation with CA is only “pseudo-resolved” and could affect whoever CA names as permanent CEO.

Elliott said large CA customers shouldn’t be concerned about using CA products, and said the agreement should improve CA’s ability to acquire smaller companies to provide customers with new and innovative technologies. The uncertainty of a federal investigation has “put on hold” CA’s acquisition ability in recent months, Elliott added.

Kumar and Richards couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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