Monday, June 28, 2010

How to Lie in Plain Sight, Overstock.com Edition

So here's an interesting question: how much does a publicly held company have to lie in order to merit SEC sanctions.

The the implicit question in the open letter to the agency that was released over the weekend by white-collar crime-fighter Sam Antar.

The post deals the ongoing saga of my favorite corporate crime petri dish, Overstock.com, and describes how the company has been backpeddling and juggling lies in its correspondence with the SEC, recently released in corporate filing.

It's all pretty technical stuff, but it all comes down to the company's constantly shifting excuses for creating a "cookie jar reserve" that allow it to manipulate its quarterly earnings.

Overstock evidently has been pretty blatantly lying. It's up to the SEC to determine whether financial statements are worth the paper they're printed on, or whether they're about as useful as... well, as the SEC, I reckon.

© 2010 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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