BusinessCompany NewsSEC widens probe into AOL

SEC widens probe into AOL

The US Securities & Exchange Commission will investigate the sale of AOL Time Warner shares by senior executives as part of its probe into the accounts of the media giant.

Link: WorldCom link in AOL accounts probe

The sales were made between February and June last year by fifteen senior executives, including chairman Steve Case and chief executive Dick Parsons and resulted in profits of almost $500m.

The SEC is expected to look at the timing of the sales in relation to statements made by the company that it would meet ambitious earnings forecasts.

Last week AOL Time Warner admitted that it might have overstated revenues.

In its statement to certify its financial results following the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the media giant said it found three transactions that were inappropriately stated as revenues ‘within the past 10 days.

It said: ‘The advertising and commerce revenues recognised in connection with these three transactions totalled approximately $49m (£31.8m) occurring over a period of six quarters.’

AOL is already the subject of a Department of Justice investigation into its accounting practices.

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