$100 million settles Dell accounting-fraud charges

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's probe of Dell ends with a $100 million fine but no admission of wrongdoing or illegal activities.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh

Dell said on Thursday that it will pay $100 million to settle charges that it engaged in fraudulent accounting practices to appear to be meeting Wall Street earnings targets.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the company and chairman Michael Dell, which has been previously disclosed, alleged that Dell "failed to disclose" payments from Intel to use its processors and "materially misrepresented" the reasons for its improving profitability.

Dell said in a statement that it and its chairman agreed to the settlement without admitting any wrongdoing or illegal activities.

The payment isn't exactly a surprise: As CNET reported last month, Dell said it would take a $100 million charge on its first-quarter 2011 earnings. (Dell's finance department has become enmeshed in similar accounting allegations before.)

"The board believes that this settlement is in the best interest of the company, its customers, and its shareholders, as it brings a five-year SEC investigation to closure," Sam Nunn, Dell's presiding director, said in a statement, adding that the Dell board unanimously supports chairman and CEO Michael Dell.

Also on Thursday, the SEC filed a 61-page complaint (PDF) against Dell, Michael Dell, and other company executives in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The agency is asking the court to grant a permanent injunction barring the defendants from violating federal securities laws. Dell, Michael Dell, and the other defendants have agreed to the injunction, the SEC said.