A new filing in a shareholder suit claims Halliburton systematically overstated financial results from 1998, when Vice President Cheney was in charge, to 2001. The suit cited four unidentified employees. The company denied it. Meanwhile, the firm agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it didn't disclose a change in accounting methods that helped boost reported earnings. Fines were also levied against two top finance officials.
Tech IPO, Interrupted
It was to be the biggest tech initial public offering in five years -- the one that would put the entire sector back in Wall Street's good graces. But now it looks like Google will put off its IPO until September, reflecting a lack of interest on the part of big investors and an embarrassing admission that the company may have illegally issued 29 million shares of stocks and options without registering them. California officials are investigating. Meanwhile, seven other IPOs were pulled because of weak market demand.
Just days after agreeing to pay $300 million to settle a shareholder suit, Bristol-Myers Squibb ponied up an additional $150 million to settle SEC charges that it overstated revenue by $2.5 billion between 1999 and 2001. The company, which did not admit wrongdoing, nonetheless agreed to take steps to ensure it wouldn't happen again. A criminal probe of its executives continues. Meanwhile, the company was one of 44 sued by New York City for allegedly overcharging its Medicaid program.
Trouble on the Line
MCI acknowledged that it, like AT&T and Sprint, is retreating from marketing consumer long-distance services. Many analysts consider it only a matter of time before the companies are forced to sell out to the stronger regional phone companies, which are now in a better position to offer packages of local and long-distance services. But the regionals are unlikely to make any offers while share prices continue to fall. Meanwhile, AT&T warned of a possible massive write-down of assets as its bonds fell to "junk" status.
Oil Firms Under Scrutiny
The SEC began an inquiry into four oil companies and their relationship to the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil, Amerada Hess and ChevronTexaco all denied they had violated anti-bribery laws. But a Senate probe of District-based Riggs Bank recently uncovered evidence that the companies entered into business ventures with companies owned in part by the country's dictator, other top officials and their families.