An Illinois-based shipping and logistics company accused of engaging in a multiyear accounting fraud scheme avoided further penalties after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) deemed a $20 million class-action settlement agreed to in 2019 returned any ill-gotten gains.
Roadrunner Transportation Systems overstated its income by $66 million from 2011-16 and had to re-evaluate $373.7 million worth of noncash impairment charges as a result of the scheme, the SEC said Tuesday in an administrative proceeding.
Among the fraudulent accounting techniques the company employed were improperly deferring recognition of known expenses to future quarters, failing to write down assets and accounts it knew were worthless or overvalued, and manipulating contingent earnout liabilities related to Roadrunner’s purchase of operating companies, the SEC said.
After conducting an internal investigation into the alleged scheme, the company restated its financial statements in 2018. The probe determined Roadrunner executives withheld information from the company’s independent directors, the audit committee, and an independent auditor. The company shared the findings of its investigation with the SEC, the order said.
Roadrunner fired the executives responsible for the alleged fraud and brought in new leadership, the order said. The company undertook other remedial measures, including strengthening its compliance organization, enacting changes to its governance and structure, and increasing training of employees. Among the compliance improvements implemented were a whistleblower hotline along with employee policy and training updates.
Roadrunner did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings but agreed to cease and desist from future violations and pay disgorgement of approximately $7.1 million and prejudgment interest of more than $2.5 million. Those payments were deemed satisfied by a settlement Roadrunner agreed to in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2019. Approximately $16.4 million of that settlement amount was distributed to shareholders, the SEC’s order said.
In 2021, Roadrunner’s former Chief Financial Officer Peter Armbruster was sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in misrepresenting Roadrunner’s expenses. Two other Roadrunner executives were acquitted by a federal jury of all charges in July 2021.
Roadrunner did not respond to a request for comment.