Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Nail in Overstock.com's Coffin

My favorite corporate crime poster child, Overstock.com, which has been lying about its finances since this heap of ca-ca in 2000 (Overstock actually lost $21.5 million in 2000, and then 2001, and then 2002, and then.....), recently announced a change in its auditor.

A change in auditors is usually the first leg of a death march for slimy companies like Overstock. And believe me, they don't get any slimier.

White-collar crime fighter Sam Antar today begins a two-part series directed as an open letter to Overstock's hapless new auditors, Grant Thornton. Sam writes:

Overstock.com has been plagued with material accounting errors, restatements of financial reports, re-restatements of financial reports, and violations of SEC rules throughout its history. Worst yet, Overstock.com's unprincipled management team, led by masquerading stock market reformer CEO Patrick Byrne, has continually lied to investors about the company's financial performance. All of those lying members of the management team are still working for the company, despite serial lies about the company's financial performance, as I will describe below and in a series of blog posts to come.
It's informative reading for anyone with a strong stomach. He begins by harkening back to a 2001 interview with Fox News in which Byrne lied about his company's profitability, and it goes downhill from there.

I can understand why media outlets like Fox and, before he melted down on-air, CNBC would invite Byrne to pontificate--he's a CEO, and that's all some journalists seem to notice. But why hasn't the SEC called him to account for his lies? The word "incompetent" comes to mind.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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