U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 22623 / February 21, 2013
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Mercury Interactive, LLC (f/k/a Mercury Interactive Corporation), Amnon Landan, Sharlene Abrams, Douglas Smith, and Susan Skaer, Civil Action No. 07-2822 (WHA) (N.D. Cal., filed May 31, 2007)
FORMER MERCURY INTERACTIVE CEO/CHAIRMAN AND CFO SETTLE SUIT ALLEGING STOCK OPTIONS BACKDATING AND OTHER MISCONDUCT
Executives to be Permanently Enjoined, to Pay Civil Penalties and Disgorgement, and to Reimburse Company Pursuant to Section 304 of Sarbanes-Oxley; Former CEO/Chairman also to be Barred for Five Years from Serving as an Officer and Director of any Public Company
The Securities and Exchange Commission today settled civil fraud charges against Amnon Landan, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mercury Interactive, LLC (Mercury), and Douglas Smith, a former Chief Financial Officer of Mercury, arising from an alleged scheme to backdate stock option grants and from other alleged misconduct.
On May 31, 2007, the Commission charged Landan, Smith, and two other former senior Mercury officers with perpetrating a fraudulent and deceptive scheme from 1997 to 2005 to award themselves and other Mercury employees undisclosed, secret compensation by backdating stock option grants and failing to record hundreds of millions of dollars of compensation expense. The Commission's complaint also alleges that during this period Landan and certain other executives backdated stock option exercises and made fraudulent disclosures concerning Mercury's "backlog" of sales revenues to manage its reported earnings.
Without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint, Landan consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violating and/or aiding and abetting violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, as well as the financial reporting, record-keeping, internal controls, false statements to auditors, and proxy provisions of the federal securities laws. Landan also agreed to be barred from serving as an officer or director of any public company for five years. Landan will pay $1,252,822 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, representing the "in-the-money" benefit from his exercise of backdated option grants, and a $1,000,000 civil penalty. Pursuant to Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Landan will also reimburse Mercury, or the parent company that acquired it after the alleged misconduct (Hewlett-Packard Company), $5,064,678 for cash bonuses and profits from the sale of Mercury stock that he received in 2003. Under the terms of the settlement, Landan's Section 304 reimbursement shall be deemed partially satisfied by his prior return to Mercury of $2,817,500 in vested options.
Without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint, Smith consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violating Section 17(a)(2) and (a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933. He will disgorge $451,200, representing the "in-the-money" benefit from his exercise of backdated option grants, and pay a $100,000 civil penalty. Pursuant to Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Smith will also reimburse Mercury or its parent company $2,814,687 for profits received from the sale of Mercury stock in 2003 and a cash bonus received for 2003. Under the terms of the settlement, all of Smith's disgorgement and all but $250,000 of his Section 304 reimbursement shall be deemed satisfied by his prior repayment to Mercury of $451,200 and his foregoing of his right to exercise vested options with a value of $2,113,487.
The settlements are subject to the approval of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The Commission previously filed settled charges in this matter against Mercury and three former outside directors of Mercury. On May 31, 2007, the Commission filed civil fraud charges against Mercury based on the stock option backdating scheme and other fraudulent conduct noted above. Mercury, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard Company on Nov. 8, 2006, after the alleged misconduct, settled the matter by agreeing to pay a $28 million penalty and to be permanently enjoined. See Litigation Release No. 20136 (May 31, 2007). On September 17, 2008, the Commission filed settled charges against three former outside directors of Mercury alleging that they recklessly approved backdated stock option grants and reviewed and signed public filings that contained materially false and misleading disclosures about the company's stock option grants and company expenses. The outside directors settled the matter by consenting to permanent injunctions and the payment by each director of a $100,000 penalty. See Litigation Release No. 20724 (Sept. 17, 2008). Mercury and the outside directors settled the charges without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint. The Commission also previously settled with one of the four senior officers in its contested action. On March 20, 2009, the Commission settled with former Mercury CFO Sharlene Abrams by which she agreed to entry of a permanent injunction against the antifraud and certain other securities law provisions, to pay $2,287,914 in disgorgement which was deemed partially satisfied by payment to Mercury, to pay a $425,000 civil penalty, to be permanently barred from serving as an officer and director of any public company, and to a Commission order barring her from appearing or practicing before the Commission as an accountant. See Litigation Release No. 20964 (March 20, 2009). Abrams settled without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint.
The Commission's litigation against one remaining Mercury officer, former general counsel Susan Skaer, is continuing.