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ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - Ahold NV and its former chief executive have reached final settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over charges related to a $1 billion overstatement of earnings.
The global grocery retailer said in a statement it "cooperated fully with the SEC in its investigation and has undertaken significant remedial actions in connection with the issues that were investigated." Pledging to continue cooperating fully with the SEC and other authorities, the embattled Ahold said the settlement "completely resolves the SEC's investigation of Ahold and its various operating companies, including its U.S. foodservice subsidiary."
Commenting on the settlement, Peter Wakkie, Ahold's chief corporate governance counsel and member of the executive board, said, "Ahold has worked very hard over the past two years to improve its systems and controls and implement other remedial measures to prevent any recurrence of these unfortunate events." He added the conclusion of the SEC's investigation represents "another significant step for Ahold's 'Road to Recovery' ... to regain and maintain the confidence and trust of our shareholders, customers and employees."
The SEC also disclosed agreements with three former top executives of Ahold -- former c.e.o. Cees Van der Hoeven, former c.f.o. Michiel Meurs and Roland Fahlin, a former member of Ahold's supervisory board and audit committee -- who neither admitted to nor denied the allegations in their settlements with the SEC.
The SEC said it did not seek fines against the three individuals because Dutch prosecutors, who are conducting a related criminal investigation, had asked the SEC not to do so because of potential double jeopardy under Dutch law.
Van der Hoeven, 57, Meurs, 53, and Fahlin, 65, are also facing indictment by a court in Amsterdam. Jan Andreae, 58, a former Ahold e.v.p., faces indictment, and the SEC's case against him is still pending.
Prosecutors say Van der Hoeven and the three others committed fraud because they knew the company didn't have control over its subsidiaries, but failed to inform accountants or shareholders.
U.S.-traded shares of Ahold rose 7 cents to $6.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.