Last summer we told you about a lawsuit that was filed by a fired Tyco accounting manager who claimed that he was let go after he refused to sign off on expenses related to an epic party in the Bahamas that had “Mermaid Greeters,” “Costumed Pirates/Wenches” a tatt h “Limbo” and “fire” dancers and other, what some might call, “fun” or “awesome” things. The whole bash was going to run around $350,000 but Jeffrey Wiest wasn’t interested in being connected to another lavish party thrown by Tyco.
This is understandable because, as you well know, the AWESOME party in Tyco’s past was taped and it eventually wound up as evidence in a trial against Tyco Execs Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz. Those two men are currently wards of the state and Tyco is, for AWESOME or worse, simply known as the company that threw the Roman Orgy Party:
Investors footed about half the bill for that affair, which was disguised as a shareholder meeting and is now widely known as the Tyco Roman Orgy.
The party featured such indulgences as an ice sculpture modeled after Michelangelo’s David urinating top-shelf vodka. Against this backdrop in 2008, Jeffrey Wiest said he “refused to process a payment [for] and sent a note to his management questioning the legitimacy of a $350,000 event being held at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.”
“Wiest, as was virtually everyone else at Tyco and in the world, was cognizant of a similar party under Dennis Kozlowski’s management,” according to the manager’s July 2010 suit, first reported by Courthouse News. “He did not want to be any part of a repeat occurrence.”
As we mentioned, Wiest obviously had the foresight to conclude that news of a “Mermaid/Pirate/Wench Rape and Pillage Party” would not go over so well with anyone not in attendance and accordingly, refused to sign off on the expenses. Considering that there was “only one 1.5-hour business meeting during the entire five-day event,” it appears that Wiest made the right choice. However, Wiest claimed that the company started “investigating” him and shortly thereafter was told that his services were no longer needed.
“Mr. Wiest’s communications simply provided information and suggestions to ensure proper tax and accounting treatment of the Atlantis event expenses. As such, then, they did not rise to the level of ‘definitively and specifically’ conveying a reasonable belief that [a Sarbanes-Oxley crime] was taking place, notwithstanding Mr. Wiest’s conclusory assertion in the complaint that he had made ‘protected disclosures relating to fraudulent accounting practice, attempted shareholder fraud, and lack of compliance with United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.'”
Definitely a setback for Wiest who, it appears, won’t be recouping any lost income here and will forever have the reputation as a party pooper. And the latter could be a far worse fate.
This past summer we learned that Tyco was still throwing epic parties, despite the best efforts of rank and file accountant Jeff Weist, who couldn’t fathom how scantily-clad mermaids, pirates, wenches, a tattoo artist, fire breather, among other things were legitimate business expenses.
Jeff claimed in a lawsuit that he was fired, more or less, for his integrity and trying to keep Tyco out of trouble, again.
Fast-forward to present day and Christopher Coughlin is retiring as Tyco’s CFO. Rather than promote someone from the inside, presumably letting the good times continue (tone at the top is everything, yo know), the company has appointed Eastman Kodak CFO Frank Sklarsky to take over effective December 1.
Now, if you’re a Tyco employee that happens to be on a regular on these legendary ragers, you’ve got to be concerned. Years of debauchery in exotic locales could be coming to an abrupt halt (right before the holidays!) if the transition doesn’t go right.
However, there is a ray of hope, “Coughlin, 58, who has been Tyco chief financial officer since 2005, will advise the company on some projects until his retirement in 2011.”
So it appears that Chris will have to explain “how we do things at Tyco” to Frank before he hangs it up. Judging by how things have gone at Kodak for the last few years, Sklarsky is probably thrilled to be out of there and maybe willing to play ball the Tyco way. Think of the mermaids, Frank.
Tyco Int’l hires CFO away from Kodak [Reuters]
A couple of weeks ago we told you about fired Tyco accountant Jeff Weist who wasn’t really into, among other things, mermaid greeters and costumed wenches. Whether or not he’s not a fan of starfish bikinis wasn’t the issue, it was the principle of the matter.
You see, some Tyco executives got into a bit of trouble back in the day for some accounting fraud but the kicker was the footage of a four-day “Roman orgy” rager in Sardinia. The jury didn’t have much problem throwing the book at former CEO Dennis Kozlowski and former CFO Mark Swartz after concluding that awesome party = crooked execs. Weist figured the company didn’t really need more trouble so he raised a fuss over the expenses for another epic bash that was being planned for execs in the Bahamas.
FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto got wind of this and had Weist on his program only to do most of the talking. When Weist was able to squeeze a word in, he didn’t exactly come across as a fun-loving guy but more like your typical accountant that would probably frown on these types of shenanigans. Nevertheless, Weist was given the boot and that has caused a bit of stir – specifically, Weist filing suit against Tyco.
Anyway, a guy that knows a little something about awesome parties – Dennis Kozlowski – caught Cavuto’s little program and felt obligated to write a letter (a copy follows in the following pages) expressing his disappointment.
Koz writes, “As I write this letter in my 6′ x 9′ cell jail cell, all I can muster in response to your show is ‘My, how things have changed.’ ”
Right! Like, how on Earth can you justify stingray feedings? COME ON. You want sexy men and women running around in togas, that’s understandable. You just raid your linen closet and you’re good to go. But can you believe someone would throw a corporate bash in the Western Hemisphere? Shameful.
He goes on to hem and haw that if it wasn’t for some idiot deciding to tape his little bash in Sardinia, which was later shown to 12 Manhattan jurors, he wouldn’t even be in this predicament. Further, DK would like to know where the outrage is re: the mermaids, wenches, tattoo artists, bonuses and so forth, “With the Tyco extravaganza where employees were paid ‘bonuses’ to attend, you have to ask where is the outrage?”
Well? Outrage? Anyone? The man is in a prison upstate and he can’t hear you!
Fired Tyco Accountant (and no fan of mermaids or wenches) Jeff Wiest was on Neil Cavuto last night and he attempts to explain his story where he would not approve of some expenses for, what sounds to be, a pretty kick ass party that any one of you would love to attend. Regardless, it wasn’t Jeff’s job to judge the awesomeness of said party but merely to determine if the bash was for legitimate business purposes.
In his opinion, the mermaid greeters, wenches, tattoo artists, so on and so forth were simply too extravagant and no one at Tyco was going to convince him otherwise.
As you can see, Jeff manages to tell his story despite appearing pretty nervous and dealing with several Cavuto outbursts (he has no time for the delicate intricacies of expense approval, get to the mermaids!).
But in part deuce, Jeff gets all accountant-y, discussing intricate details of Sarbanes-Oxley and Cavuto will not stand for it. Neil finally levels with the guy saying that he goes to plenty of Fox Biz shindigs (awesome ones, at that) and it’s NBD. So what the hell man? Are you just not a fun guy?
Stingray feedings! Who wouldn’t want to feed a stingray? And of course Cavuto likes the mermaid greeters (which somehow gets a chuckle out of Jeff) but who doesn’t, amiright?
[caption id="attachment_13953" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Not a legitimate business expense?"][/caption]
Remeber Tyco? Dennis Kozlowski. Mark Swartz. Roman orgy parties. It sounded like a hoot. Too bad the law got in the way.
An accounting manager at Tyco Electronics claims that he was ‘coercively’ fired for taking issue with “Tyco’s exorbitant bashes for its CEO Thomas Lynch and other top executives ‘were almost identical to parties for which Tyco’s former CEO [Dennis Kozlowski] was criminally charged and convicted.’ ”
What kind of party expenses you ask? Run-of-the-mill stuff like ‘mermaid greeters’ and ‘costumed pirates/wenches.’
It doesn’t hurt to have a little eye candy at a company bash, amiright? And maybe Jeffrey Weist was okay with the scantily clad roaming hotties and really just took exception with the $2,350 for the tattoo artist (tatts included!) and limbo and fire dancers, $2,500 for chair covers and sashes and the $1,000 hotel rooms.
Whatever lavish (read: kick-ass) expense it was that turned out to be the straw that broke the stuffy accountant’s back, Jeff Wiest not letting this happen:
The complaint adds: “This requested payment seemed particularly inappropriate from a morale aspect, coming in the midst of continued downsizing pressure, and seemed contradictory in that this one party equated to approximately seven positions for one year in the accounts payable function managed by Wiest,” according to the complaint.
Wiest says that despite his objections, “it was decided to go ahead with the event, to treat the proportionate share of the party as income, and to ‘gross-up’ the bonuses to the employees involved. In other words, the company would pay each highly paid employee an additional amount of cash beyond the value of the trip in order to cover his/her tax liability.”
This approach brought “the total cost of the event to approximately a half million dollars,” according to the complaint.
He claims that each high-ranking Tyco employee was awarded up to $7,500 per person, or $15,000 per couple, as additional “income,” for attending the party. All of the 30 employees who attended were receiving salaries of more than $102,000, Wiest says. He adds that 23 of them took their wives.
And they got paid to go! What is going on at Tyco? Other than it’s the best place to work EVER.
Back to Wiest. For taking high road, Weist alleges that Tyco turned the screws back on him:
In response to his repeated questioning of these extravaganzas, Wiest says, Tyco began an “investigation” of him. This led to bogus accusations that he had made sexually oriented comments, Wiest says.
“Examples given included a comment to an employee going on a honeymoon cruise to not stay on the ship the whole time; a comment about his wife’s hormone issues during her pregnancy being difficult for him, and a comment regarding the uses of improved flexibility from working out. It is noteworthy that the hormone comment would have been several years old, as Wiest’s child was born in 2006,” the complaint states.
He claims Tyco also raised questions about a decade-old brief relationship he had had with a California-based Tyco employee, and baseball tickets that Wiest had been given by a superior.
Jesus. If they would have just invited him to the party, we probably wouldn’t have to go through all this.
Same Old Tricks at Tyco, Accountant Says [Courthouse News Service]
Invoking their continuing motto of “Better Late Than Never”, the SEC closed the Tyco case today as Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz agreed to be banned from serving as directors or officers of a public company. The timing of this ban comes as a bit of surprise since these guys have been in jail since 2005 but we are talking about the SEC.
Since Bernie Madoff has a much longer sentence than the Tyco twins, the Commission will figure there’s no rush and he’ll retain his rights to serve as a director/officer until around 2020.
Settlement Ends S.E.C. Case Two From Tyco [DealBook/NYT]