June 28, 2018 / 10:15 PM / 23 days ago

Bankrate ex-CFO pleads guilty in U.S. to accounting fraud scheme

(Reuters) - The former chief financial officer of Bankrate Inc pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges stemming from his role in an accounting fraud scheme that cost investors more than $25 million, prosecutors said.

Edward DiMaria, 53, pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to two counts, including conspiring to make false statements to accountants, falsify books and records and commit securities fraud, the U.S. Justice Department said.

DiMaria, a resident of Fairfield County, Connecticut, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 11. His lawyer, Barry Berke, declined to comment.

Bankrate, a consumer financial information provider, was acquired last year by privately held digital marketing company Red Ventures.

Prosecutors alleged that from 2011 to 2014, DiMaria and others carried out a complex scheme to artificially inflate Bankrate’s earnings and misrepresent certain company expenses.

At his guilty plea, DiMaria also admitted that he made false statements to Bankrate’s independent auditors to conceal improper accounting entries and caused the company’s financial statements to be misstated, the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors said the scheme caused more than $25 million in losses to Bankrate’s shareholders.

Bankrate in 2015 agreed to pay $15 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it engaged in accounting fraud to ensure that its financial results met analyst expectations.

Hyunjin Lerner, Bankrate’s former vice president of finance, pleaded guilty in October in connection with the scheme. He was sentenced in January to five years in prison.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler

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