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Beazer Homes CEO could face civil charges

Federal regulators have notified Beazer Homes USA Inc. that its top executive could face civil charges over incentive compensation.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Federal regulators have notified Beazer Homes USA Inc. that its top executive could face civil charges over incentive compensation.

The notification comes more than a year after the Atlanta-based homebuilder settled a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its financial statements.

Beazer Homes said in a regulatory filing Monday that SEC staff issued a so-called Wells notice to CEO Ian McCarthy. That means the staff intends to recommend civil charges against McCarthy for possible securities violations. Recipients of the notices can respond to the allegations before the commission decides on any enforcement action.

Beazer said McCarthy intends to respond to the notice, which is not a formal allegation nor a finding of wrongdoing.

Beazer said the SEC staff recommended action against McCarthy "to collect certain incentive compensation and other amounts allegedly due" under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The company's filing did not disclose how much compensation is involved, or other details about the disputed pay.

The company itself is not named in the notice. A Beazer representative did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Beazer said SEC staff did not allege "any lack of due care" by McCarthy in connection with the company's financial statements or other disclosures. Beazer noted that in another recent instance involving a CEO at a different company, the SEC maintained it did not need to allege misconduct by the executive to bring such an action.

Beazer did not admit or deny wrongdoing in September 2008 when it settled with the SEC after an investigation into the company's business practices in handling its financial statements. Beazer said the probe involved matters that were the subject of a previous investigation by the company's audit committee.

According to Beazer's 2007 annual report, the audit committee's investigation reviewed the company's mortgage origination business. The committee found that the company's mortgage origination practices related to certain loans violated some federal and state requirements. During the investigation, the audit committee also discovered accounting and financial reporting errors that required the company to restate certain financial results.

The SEC order instituting the settlement said in part that Beazer "fraudulently misstated certain of its quarterly and annual net come by intentionally managing its earnings."

In 2007, when the audit committee's investigation was under way, McCarthy received a compensation package valued at $3.2 million. More than half of it came from stock awarded to him as part of a bonus for his performance in 2006.

Beazer paid no fines or penalties under the settlement, but consented to a cease-and-desist order requiring future compliance with federal securities laws and regulations.

Shares of Beazer fell 36 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $5.13 in morning trading. The stock has ranged from 24 cents to $6.93 over the past year.