McAfee socks away $50M in hopes of SEC settlement

McAfee has reached a proposed settlement with the SEC over an investigation into its accounting practices.

McAfee has reached a proposed settlement with federal regulators that the California, company hopes will end a three-year investigation into its accounting practices. The software vendor announced it has set aside US$50 million to pay an anticipated penalty.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began informally investigating McAfee, then called Network Associates, after the company changed the way it booked software revenue in December 2000. A formal SEC investigation was announced in March 2002.

Previously, McAfee had recognized software revenue when it shipped software to distributors, but after the 2000 changes, it began counting sales only when software had actually been sold by the distributor, said Kent Roberts, executive vice president and general counsel with McAfee.

The SEC has been examining whether McAfee properly accounted for this transition, Roberts said.

The proposed settlement calls for additional measures beyond the US$50 million penalty, but Roberts declined to elaborate on what they might be. The penalty will be recognized as an expense in McAfee's third-quarter results, which will be announced on Oct. 27, Roberts said.

No timeline has been set for the SEC Commissioners to vote on the settlement agreement, but the Commission's staff is recommending that the proposal be accepted, Roberts said. "They will receive the submission and they will make whatever decision they make on that," he said.

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