March - 2010

March 15, 2010 – Former Clinton Foundation trustee, Vinod Gupta, is charged with fraud

Bill Clinton and Vinod Gupta (Credit: public domain)

“The Securities and Exchange Commission charged former Clinton Foundation trustee Vinod Gupta with fraud on March 15, 2010.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged three former senior executives and a former director of an Omaha-based database compilation company for their roles in a scheme in which the CEO funneled illegal compensation to himself in the form of perks worth millions of dollars.

The SEC alleges that Vinod Gupta, the former CEO and Chairman of infoUSA Inc. and infoGROUP Inc. (Info), fraudulently used corporate funds to pay almost $9.5 million in personal expenses to support his lavish lifestyle. He additionally caused the company to enter into $9.3 million of undisclosed business transactions between Info and other companies in which he had a personal stake.”

[…]”Gupta stole millions of dollars from Info shareholders by treating the company like it was his personal ATM,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Other corporate officers also abused their positions of trust by looking the other way instead of standing up for investors and bringing the scheme to a halt.”

Donald M. Hoerl, Director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office, added, “Officers and directors must ensure that shareholders receive accurate and complete disclosure of all compensation paid to executives. Raval, as chairman of the audit committee, neglected these duties and allowed the money to flow to Gupta unbeknownst to investors.”

The SEC’s complaints, filed in federal district court in Nebraska, allege that from 2003 to 2007, Gupta improperly used corporate funds for more than $3 million worth of personal jet travel for himself, family, and friends to such destinations as South Africa, Italy, and Cancun. He also used investor money to pay $2.8 million in expenses related to his yacht; $1.3 million in personal credit card expenses; and other costs associated with 28 club memberships, 20 automobiles, homes around the country, and three personal life insurance policies. The SEC also alleges that Gupta failed to inform Info’s other board members of the material fact that he had purchased shares of an Info acquisition target for his own ill-gotten financial benefit.

The SEC alleges that Raval failed to respond appropriately to various red flags concerning Gupta’s expenses and Info’s related party transactions with Gupta’s other entities. Two Info internal auditors raised concerns to Raval that Gupta was submitting requests for reimbursement of personal expenses, yet Raval failed to take meaningful action to further investigate the matter and he omitted critical facts in a report to the board concerning Gupta’s expenses.” (Securities and Exchange Commission, 3/15/2010)