Risk Management

A CFO Wannabe’s Litany of Lies

A bid for a new job allegedly involved forged SEC correspondence and fake statements by a previous employer — which he claimed was his current empl...
Stephen Taub and David McCannMay 30, 2008

Federal prosecutors have brought criminal charges against a Florida man for engaging in a bizarre, elaborate scheme to be hired as a CFO.

Jorge Enrique Yepes was charged with three counts of wire fraud for allegedly forging correspondence from a Securities and Exchange Commission attorney. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison term of 20 years on each count plus fines.

Yepes’s Miami-based attorney, David Marcus, criticized prosecutors for “making a federal case” out of what he characterized as a trivial crime. “The federal government has decided to go after somebody who may have lied on his résumé instead of going after real criminals like terrorists, rapists, and murderers,” Marcus told CFO.com. “Our resources are very scarce and we should use them in important ways.” He added: “He is alleged to have done it to get a job, which he did not get, and even if the [forgery] allegations are true, and we don’t know that yet, no one was harmed and no one suffered.”

In his job search, Yepes allegedly claimed to be the current vice president of finance for a Fortune 500 packaging company with $6.3 billion in sales — a job from which he was fired in 2006, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The company was not named in the complaint, but the only company fitting that description, Pasadena, California-based Avery Dennison, confirmed to CFO.com that Yepes was formerly director of finance for Information Brand Management Services, Latin America. That’s a different title from the one given in a September 2007 press release from another company, Industrial Enterprises of America, announcing that it had hired Yepes as CFO. That release, which the company filed with the SEC in an 8-K, identified Yepes as a former vice-president of finance, Americas, at Avery Dennison.

Yepes’s stint as CFO of Industrial was short-lived — the company suspended him in November pending the results of an “internal integrity” review, and fired him in February. Industrial, which recently was delisted, did not return calls from CFO.com by press time.

Prosecutors say that beginning in April, Yepes misled and defrauded an unnamed provider of packaging solutions in an effort to land a new CFO job. As part of the scheme, he allegedly E-mailed fake documents and correspondence to the Manhattan office of a national executive-search firm.

Yepes had previously been asked to voluntarily provide information in connection with an investigation by the SEC into his conduct while employed at the company — apparently Avery Dennison — from which he was fired in 2006, according to prosecutors. He is said to have told a representative of the search firm that his assistance with the SEC investigation was no longer needed and that the commission did not foresee any future actions against him. Those statements were not true, the complaint asserts.

To back up his claim, Yepes allegedly created and E-mailed false documents to the search firm. These included a letter written on SEC letterhead and purportedly signed by an SEC attorney saying Yepes had “provided proof of inequalities” at the former employer, and a fictitious E-mail from the attorney to Yepes saying he had provided valuable information and the SEC required no further information from him, and wishing him “best of luck in future endeavors.”

Yepes also allegedly created and sent to an employee of the search firm an E-mail, purporting to be written from the personal E-mail account of the CFO of the company that he claimed was still his employer, saying he was a valuable current team member. “In fact, the CFO…did not write or send the emails to the search firm and did not know Yepes, who had been fired two years earlier,” prosecutors charge.

Before his employment at Avery Dennison, Yepes served as director of finance, Latin America, at The Clorox Co. for three years.