Cloud communications company Sonus Networks, its former CFO, and another executive have agreed to pay more than $1.9 million to settle charges that they provided misleading revenue guidance to investors.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said finance chief Mark Greenquist ignored red flags when he made public statements about Sonus’ projected revenue for the first quarter of 2015. The company’s stock fell more than 33% in March 2015 after it lowered its guidance from $74 million to between $47 million and $50 million.
Greenquist knew, among other things, Sonus had pulled forward deals initially projected to close in 2015 in order to achieve its revenue guidance for the fourth quarter of 2014, the SEC said in an administrative order.
“All this activity in 4Q will just drain the swamp in 1Q … i think we’re just postponing the inevitable,” he wrote in an October 2014 internal communication.
As part of the settlement, Sonus’ successor company Ribbon Communications, Greenquist and Michael Swade, vice president of global sales, agreed to pay penalties of $1.9 million, $30,000, and $40,000 respectively.
“The investing community expects that when companies choose to provide public financial projections, there is a reasonable basis underpinning those projections,” Antonia Chion, associate director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement said in a news release.
“When a company ignores red flags or takes steps to make public financial projections inaccurate, we will take appropriate action,” she added.
Greenquist served as Sonus’ CFO from November 2013 to June 2016. According to the SEC, he made a material misstatement in a January 2015 news release when he said “we remain comfortable” with the consensus analyst estimate for the first quarter of $74 million in revenue.
“I’m not confident that we can re-affirm 1Q … 4Q has shaken my confidence in anything that Sales tells me,” he had said in an internal communication three days earlier.
The SEC said Greenquist also knew there was a gap of $11 million between the estimate and the expected revenue from deals that Sonus’ salesforce had indicated would “be won and booked” in the first quarter.
According to LinkedIn, Greenquist is now a consultant at iAnthus Capital Management, a financier of licensed cannabis cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.