DETROIT (CN) – ProQuest Co. CFO Scott Hirth juggled the books for 5 years and will pay $418,000 for it, the SEC said. The accounting fraud cost Proquest, now known as Voyager Learning, more than $437 million in market capitalization when its share price dropped by 59% after the tricks were discovered.
Proquest makes electronic databases of archived information.
“Hirth engaged in an egregious and extensive accounting fraud by single-handedly making hundreds of false manual journal entries on the company’s books and then going to great lengths to conceal his deceptive techniques,” the SEC’s regional director Merri Jo Gillette said. The book juggling came to light in February 2006, and the share price had dropped from $29.41 to $12.31 by that April.
Hirth must disgorge $233,676, plus $54,474 in interest, and pay a fine of $130,000.
ProQuest was ordered not to let such a thing happen again.