The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two former executives at a credit card processing company with masterminding a fraudulent scheme to steal millions of dollars through phony expense reimbursements, inflated invoices, and other improper accounting tactics.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that iPayment’s then-senior vice president of sales and marketing Nasir N. Shakouri and then-executive vice president and chief operating officer Robert S. Torino routinely reimbursed themselves for payments that were never actually made to third-party vendors using their personal credit cards. They also allegedly conspired with vendors to inflate invoices and receive kickbacks from the overpayments, and claimed improper commissions and bonuses related to other corporate funds they improperly diverted in various ways.
The SEC’s complaint also charges three other iPayment executives – Bronson L. Quon, John S. Hong, and Jonathan K. Skarie – with participating in the scheme and helping Shakouri and Torino falsify books and records to hide the thefts of corporate funds. Quon, Hong, and Skarie were allegedly rewarded for their assistance with misappropriated iPayment funds.
“As alleged in our complaint, these executives manipulated iPayment’s internal accounting systems, lied to the external auditor, and caused approximately $11.6 million in losses to the company,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California today announced criminal charges against Shakouri and Torino.
The SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest and penalties as well as officer-and-director bars.
The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Kristin M. Pauley, Melissa A. Coppola, Maureen P. King, Roseann Daniello, Diego Brucculeri, Richard Hong, Nicholas Pilgrim, Scott B. York, and Valerie A. Szczepanik in the New York office. The litigation will be led by Mr. Hong and Ms. Pauley along with John Bulgozdy, who works in the Los Angeles office. The case is being supervised by Mr. Wadhwa. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service.