Jackson Hewitt Tax Service has ousted chairman and chief executive Michael Lister after more than 125 of the company's franchises faced charges of fraudulent tax return preparation.
Effective immediately, Michael Yerington will succeed Lister as CEO, while Margaret Richardson was elected non-executive chair of the board. Yerington joined the company in 2006. Richardson, who joined the company's board in 2004, was a former commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service.
Lister had been with the company since 2001 and took over as CEO in 2003. Over the years, he has grown the company to more than 6,500 tax prep locations nationwide.
A spokesman for Jackson Hewitt declined to comment on the reason for the replacement at the top, but noted that Jackson Hewitt is "strengthening the compliance and oversight procedures" at its franchises.
In September, the tax-prep concern broke off ties to its largest franchiser, Farrukh Sohail. He was charged by the Justice Department with overseeing the preparation of fraudulent tax returns that claimed more than $70 million in refunds at more than 125 franchises in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Sohail and the corporations he owned agreed to be barred from preparing tax returns for five years and be subject to restrictions afterward. Jackson Hewitt spent more than $19 million to buy back some of the franchises while some were sold to third parties.
Following an internal review, the company said that it did not find evidence of corporate employee participation in, or knowledge of, the fraudulent tax return preparation activity.
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