SEC Settles with Former Top Finance Executives of Oil and Gas Company

Litigation Release No. 24809 / April 28, 2020

Accounting and Auditing Release No. 4133 / April 28, 2020

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Penn West Petroleum Ltd., d/b/a Obsidian Energy Ltd., Todd H. Takeyasu, Jeffery A. Curran, and Waldemar Grab, No. 17-CV-4866 (S.D.N.Y. filed June 28, 2017)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Todd H. Takeyasu and Jeffery A. Curran, respectively the former CFO and former vice president of accounting and reporting of a Canadian public oil and gas company, agreed to settle charges arising from an accounting fraud at the company.

The SEC's complaint alleges that from 2012 through 2014, Penn West Petroleum, Ltd., now doing business as Obsidian Energy Ltd., improperly classified certain operating expenses as capital expenses in order to lower a key publicly reported metric concerning the cost of oil extraction and processing. As alleged, this fraudulent practice was not disclosed to the company's external auditor and caused the company's financial statements to be materially inaccurate. In September 2014, the company publicly reported that it would restate its financial statements from 2012 to the first quarter of 2014 and that its historical financial statements and related audit reports could no longer be relied upon. The company and Waldemar Grab, a former operations controller at Penn West, previously settled the Commission's fraud claims.

Without admitting or denying the allegations, Curran and Takeyasu agreed to be permanently enjoined from violating the record-keeping and internal controls provisions of Section 13(b)(5) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 13b2-1 thereunder. Takeyasu has also agreed to be permanently enjoined from violating Exchange Act Rule 13b2-2, to pay a monetary penalty of $100,000, and to reimburse Penn West C$54,755 pursuant to Section 304(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Curran has agreed to be permanently enjoined from violating the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933, and to pay a monetary penalty of $55,000.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Matthew T. Spitzer and Colin J. Rand, and the case was supervised by Anita B. Bandy. The litigation was led by Melissa J. Armstrong, Derek S. Bentsen, David B. Misler, Sarah H. Concannon, and Matthew Spitzer, with supervision by Stephan J. Schlegelmilch.