Waste Management has agreed to pay $26.8 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against four former top executives, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Houston-based company — the world’s largest trash hauler, according to Bloomberg — agreed to pay $17.1 million in penalties on behalf of founder and former chairman Dean Buntrock, who the SEC accused of leading a massive accounting fraud. Waste Management also reportedly agreed to pay $7.6 million for Phillip Rooney, $1.15 million for Thomas Hau and slightly less than $1 million for Herbert Getz, added the Sun-Times. Reportedly, Buntrock will also pay a $2.3 million penalty with his own money.
In 1998, Waste Management restated its earnings for the prior five years by $1.7 billion as part of an accounting scandal that was the biggest until Enron Corp.’s collapse in 2001. Arthur Andersen, the auditor for both companies, subsequently paid $7 million to settle with the SEC over allegations that it aided Waste Management executives in the fraud.
Waste Management, which was not a defendant in the SEC case, noted in a statement that it acted “in the best interests of shareholders” by agreeing to cover the disgorgement portion of the defendants’ settlements to end its ongoing legal obligation. USA Waste Services bought Waste Management in 1998 and retained the name.