Risk Management

A Monster Case of Backdating

The recruitment services giant's former CEO, Andrew McKelvey, is charged with a securities fraud that led to the inflation of earnings by more than...
Stephen TaubJanuary 23, 2008

The former CEO of Monster Worldwide Inc., Andrew McKelvey, was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy in connection with the backdating of seven years of employee stock option grants.

The backdating cited in the indictment resulted in more than $300 million of inflated earnings for Monster through the understatement of compensation expenses. The government said McKelvey had accepted responsibility for his participation in the scheme.

In light of McKelvey’s terminal illness, the government agreed to defer his prosecution, according to a statement from Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Under the deferral agreement, the charges will be dismissed after 12 months if McKelvey abides by the terms of the agreement.

In addition, the former head of the employment recruitment giant agreed to pay $276,000 to settle civil charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection to the backdating scandal.

According to federal regulators, McKelvey conspired with other former senior executives at Monster to systematically backdate stock option grants to Monster employees between 1996 and 2003, in an effort to fraudulently suppress Monster’s compensation expenses, and falsely inflate its earnings. As a result, Monster’s filings with the SEC understated compensation expenses and inflate earnings between 1997 and 2005.

The indictment also alleged that McKelvey and others made false and misleading statements about their options grant practices to Monster’s outside auditors.

McKelvey was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, to make false statements in SEC filings, to make false statements to auditors, and to falsify corporate books and records, along with one substantive count of securities fraud.

He admitted to certifying SEC filings that reported false and misleading financial results and contained misleading descriptions of Monster’s options granting process. According to the SEC, McKelvey himself did not receive backdated options. However, he benefited from the scheme by granting backdated options to four individuals who he personally employed, including three pilots and a mechanic.