The Securities and Exchange Commission said it would distribute over $48 million to more than 12,000 investors who had been affected by Vivendi Universal's fraudulent financial reporting.
More than half of the investors bought shares of the media company on foreign exchanges and will receive their compensation in euros. The SEC filed a settled enforcement action in December 2003 against Vivendi, its former CEO Jean-Marie Messier and former CFO Guillaume Hannezo alleging that they made misleading statements about Vivendi's financial condition.
The SEC said they disguised Vivendi's cash flow and liquidity problems, improperly adjusted accounting reserves to meet earnings targets, and failed to disclose material financial commitments.
As part of the settlement, without admitting or denying the allegations, Vivendi agreed to pay a $50 million civil penalty and disgorge $1, Messier agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty and disgorge $1, and Hannezo agreed to pay a total civil penalty and disgorgement of more than $250,000. Messier also agreed to forfeit a severance package worth about $21 million euros.
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