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Comverse: One More Epic Regulatory Failure

epic-failure.thumbnail.jpgTelecom company Comverse hasn’t filed financial statements in 4 years and the SEC has just now gotten around to settling with them. Does that make sense to anyone?
Continued, after the jump

Three years after getting caught in a huge stock-options backdating scandal, technology company Comverse appears to be nearing the end of its crisis. The company recently reported that it had come to an agreement with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, consenting to a permanent injunction over any future violations by the company of American securities laws.
Comverse will also have to meet its periodic reporting requirement to the SEC no later than Feb. 8, 2010.
The agreement acknowledges that Comverse neither admits nor denies the allegations that the SEC filed against the company, and no fines will be imposed. The settlement is subject to court approval.
Comverse President and CEO Andre Dahan called the settlement an important step forward. “With these matters resolved, we remain focused on our plan to be relisted and on carrying out our strategies for the long-term success of Comverse Technologies,” he said.

That’s all well and good but no fines? That sounds like encouraging bad behavior to me. What the SEC is saying, in effect, is that companies don’t really need to file financial statements, and if they do they can backdate all they want and perhaps the SEC will come around eventually to slap them on the wrist. Sounds like effective regulating to me.
Comverse subsidiary Ulticom finally filed 2005 – 2008 financial statements with the SEC this month and the company promises it will resume issuing quarterlies to the SEC in 2010. Well shit, why?

During the probe of the effects of the options backdating affair, following which Comverse CEO Kobi Alexander fled Israel to Namibia, Ulticom discovered additional accounting irregularities in the company’s financial statement preparations. Mistakes had been made in the recognition of postponed revenues in the years 1998-2004, and the expenses on intangible assets during 1999-2004 had been incorrectly assessed.
The correction of these irregularities resulted in a $6.8 million write-off from revenues prior to 2005, after which the company filed complete statements.

What’s the lesson here, kids? Do whatever the hell you want, it’s not like the SEC is going to stop you. It’s the IRS you’ve got to be afraid of, not the children over at SEC Elementary.
Also see: Where’s the Sex Tape, Comverse?