September 20, 2018 / 7:44 PM / 2 years ago

Barrett Business Services settles accounting fraud charges: SEC

FILE PHOTO: The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hangs on the wall at SEC headquarters in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Thursday that Barrett Business Services Inc (BBSI.O) and the company’s former controller, Mark Cannon, have agreed to settle civil charges of accounting fraud involving workers’ compensation.

Criminal charges were filed against the company’s former chief financial officer, James Miller, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the SEC said in a statement.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Vancouver, Washington-based BBSI agreed to pay a $1.5 million civil penalty, the statement said.

A lawyer for Miller, Janet Hoffman, said her client intends to plead not guilty and intends to vigorously defend himself against the charges.

BBSI’s former controller, Mark Cannon, agreed to settle civil charges for his role in improperly approving some of Miller’s accounting entries, the SEC said. Cannon settled the charges without admitting or denying the findings and agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty, it said.

As a result of Miller’s actions, BBSI underreported approximately $12 million in workman’s compensation expenses in 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Miller, 54, was due to appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, later on Thursday, the statement said. He served as BBSI’s CFO from 2008 to 2016, when he was fired after disclosing to the company the falsified entries, it said.

BBSI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters could not immediately identify contact details for Cannon.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Phil Berlowitz

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