Ex-Waste Management Chairman Agrees to Pay SEC

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Former Waste Management Inc. Chairman Dean Buntrock agreed to pay almost $20 million to settle U.S. regulators' claims he helped devise an accounting fraud at the company. Buntrock, 74, will be fined $2.3 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and forfeit his profits from the alleged $1.7 billion accounting fraud. Under SEC regulations, Buntrock must pay the fine out of his own pocket.

The SEC accused Buntrock in 2002 of leading a massive accounting fraud from 1992 to 1997 that cost shareholders $6 billion. The SEC complaint filed in federal court claimed that Buntrock reaped $16.9 million in "ill-gotten gains" from bonuses, stock trading, and charitable contributions. He denied the allegations and said the company should have never restated earnings. He also countersued the SEC Chairman in a complaint that later was dismissed in federal court.

The SEC alleged that Buntrock and five other executives, including former CFO James Koenig, failed to report expenses, postponed costs, and filed false financial statements for five years. Waste Management restated its results in 1998, which cut profit by $1.7 billion in what the SEC said then was the largest-ever accounting correction.

The SEC approved settlements with Buntrock and three other ex-Waste Management executives in a vote last week.

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