sec to probe prgn accounting:http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/aptech_story.asp?category=1700&slug=PeregrineSAN DIEGO -- The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into accounting practices at software maker Peregrine Systems Inc., the company announced Thursday.Peregrine, which develops business management software, fired Arthur Andersen LLP as its auditor last month in the wake of the scandal enveloping the failure of Enron Corp.The company also announced it was expanding the scope of its internal investigation to review accounts dating back to April 1, 1999. Previously, Peregrine had said the accounting errors dated to mid-2000.The company said the review may force the company to restate earnings by as much as $100 million. Peregrine lost more than $1.1 billion between April 1999 and Dec. 31.Peregrine said it would cooperate fully with the SEC, which declined comment on the investigation.Shares of Peregrine closed at $1.59 Thursday on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, far below its 52-week high of more than $33.Earlier this month, two top Peregrine executives resigned and the company disclosed that its new auditor, KPMG, had uncovered problems with the accounts approved by Andersen. The company did not disclose the nature of the errors.Steve Gardner stepped down as board chairman and chief executive, while Matt Gless resigned as chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance.The news wiped out two-thirds of the value of Peregrine's shares and prompted more than a dozen shareholder lawsuits against the company.San Diego Padres owner John Moores, a longtime Peregrine board member, has assumed the duties of chairman. Another Padres executive, Fred Gerson, stepped in as acting chief financial officer.Moores, who served as the company's chairman during the 1990s, made more than $500 million unloading Peregrine shares in the years leading up to its collapse.The SEC said it filed 485 civil actions and administrative proceedings in the last fiscal year, resulting in fines and orders to pay totaling $531 million, according to agency spokesman John Heine.
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