People

Another Reality Show: Court Says CFO Can Sue BET

Former finance chief claims execs at television network cooked books, dipped into the till.
Lisa YoonJuly 17, 2002

>> Former Black Entertainment Television CFO Dwight Crawford got approval from Washington, D.C., judge to move ahead with lawsuit against TV network, according to the New York Times. Crawford brought $21 million suit against BET Holdings II Inc. in 2000, shortly before it was acquired by Viacom for $3 billion… Suit claimed he had been fired after attempting to blow whistle on financial improprieties… BET moved to dismiss suit in November 2000, but last week Judge Judith Bartnoff of the District of Columbia Superior Court ruled suit could go forward…

According to Crawford’s suit, BET brass used company money for personal use and devised tax-evasion schemes, overstated value of company assets, and understated certain liabilities to advertisers…

Meanwhile, BET standing its ground. “We continue to vigorously deny Mr. Crawford’s allegations and will continue to defend the lawsuit as it goes to the next steps,” general counsel Byron Marchant told the Times…

>> MetLife Inc. making Linus happy by blanketing more of Mexico… Last month, insurance giant acquired Mexican insurance company Aseguradora Hidalgo SA… Now integrating AHiSA with wholly owned subsidiary MetLife Genesis… Combining companies will give Met 37 percent share of life-insurance market in Mexico… Heading up finance at new company will be MetLife Genesis director general Jorge Vergara… Vergara joined MetLife Genesis in 2001 from insurer Seguros Generali Mexico, where he was also director general… Trained in actuary science, he also served as president of Mexican Association of Actuaries and taught actuarial mathematics at the Swiss Insurance Training Center in Zurich… In related announcement, MetLife said it appointed Federico Icaza as Vergara’s boss, director general of AHiSA-MetLife Genesis combination…

>> Management at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. apparently unfazed by bad press about Andersen… Novato, Calif.-based drug developer named one Andersen vet as finance chief, and another to chair audit committee… Louis Drapeau, who spent 31 years at now-tarnished accounting firm, joining as VP of finance, CFO, and secretary… Drapeau’s tenure at Arthur Andersen included 14 years as managing partner of assurance and consulting practice at accountancy’s northern California region…

Drapeau replacing Andersen-retiree and BioMarin acting CFO Franz Cristiani, who was elected to BioMarin’s board as chair of audit committee… Cristiani has been acting CFO since January 2002… He worked at Andersen from 1964 to 1999, making partner in 1976…

If naming Andersen alumni to top finance and auditing posts seems to be going against the grain, BioMarin making sure to convey due diligence in corporate governance… In statement, company notes it added two other board members, increasing number of board members from five to seven… All but Cristiani are outside directors…

>> Standard Federal Bank NA, a wholly owned a subsidiary of ABN AMRO North America Inc., has promoted group SVP Charles Van Swearingen to CFO of Standard Federal Bank and ABN AMRO North America’s retail/mortgage business… Van Swearingen was head of merger integration for Standard Federal… He replaces Michael Maher, who was promoted to group SVP of ABN AMRO Mortgage Group Inc….

Quote of the Day

“The difficulty with ethics education is that no one thinks they need it.”
John Daly, a former CFO and founder of Executive Education Inc.