SEC charges Comscore and its former CEO with fraud2019-09-25 17:55 by Daniela
Tags: SEC, ComScore
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged measurement firm Comscore and its former chief executive officer, Serge Matta, with fraud over a scheme that saw the company overstate its revenue by around $50m and make false claims about key performance metrics.
The SEC's investigation found that during a two-year period from 2014 to 2016, Comscore at the direction of Matta agreed to non-monetary transactions with an unnamed counterparty where it exchanges sets of data without receiving cash in return. It then recognized revenue on those transactions at a fair-market value that had been increased to inflate its revenue.
Further, the SEC said that Comscore and Matta made false and misleading disclosures about its customer base and flagship product, including that Matta lied to Comscore's internal accountants and external auditing firm. Through these tactics, per the SEC, Comscore was able to "artificially exceed" its revenue target for seven consecutive quarters and "create the illusion of smooth and steady growth in Comscore's business."
Comscore settled with the SEC, without admitting guilt nor denying the commission's findings, for a sum of $5 million and $700,000 in penalties. Matta, in a separate settlement with the SEC, agreed to reimburse Comscore for $2.1 million. Matta resigned from Comscore in 2016. As part of his settlement, he has agreed to not serve as a public company officer or director for a 10-year period.
The Virginia-based company sells services to media companies that allow them to track and analyze their performance on a variety of digital and conventional media properties. The company calls itself the "trusted currency for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms."
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