NIC Inc, which builds websites and provides various services to more than 3,000 government agencies, agreed to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it hid more than $1.18 million of perks awarded to its former chief executive.
The company, former CEO Jeffrey Fraser, current CEO Harry Herington and former Chief Financial Officer Eric Bur agreed to pay a combined $2.82 million to settle the charges. The SEC is still pursuing litigation against current Chief Financial Officer Stephen Kovzan.
According to an SEC complaint filed on Wednesday in the federal district court in Kansas City, Kansas, NIC failed to disclose perks that Fraser got from 2002 to 2007, including periods when the company said he worked virtually for free.
It said these perks included more than $4,000 per month to live in a Wyoming ski lodge, vacations for himself and his girlfriend, a leased Lexus SUV, and day-to-day expenses such as clothing, food, liquor, tobacco and nutritional supplements.
The SEC also said NIC ignored concerns raised internally that some of Fraser's perks were not business-related.
NIC and its executives did not comply with their disclosure obligations and the company's internal controls by paying Fraser's personal expenses while telling shareholders that Fraser was working for little or no compensation, Antonia Chion, associate director of the SEC enforcement division, said in a statement.
Fraser agreed to pay $2.04 million, including a $500,000 fine, in agreeing to settle. NIC agreed to a $500,000 fine and hire an independent consultant to advise on expenses and whistleblower complaints. Herington accepted a $200,000 fine and Bur a $75,000 fine. None admitted wrongdoing.
In statements released by the Olathe, Kansas-based company, Herington said it was in NIC's best interests to settle, and independent lead director Art Burtscher said NIC's board of directors had every confidence in Herington's leadership.
Eugene Goldman, a lawyer for Bur, declined to comment. Andrew Levander, who represents Fraser, and William McLucas, who represents Kovzan, did not immediately return requests for comments.
According to its website, NIC works with government entities in 24 states, and federal agencies such as the Federal Election Commission and Department of Transportation.
NIC shares closed up 20 cents at $10.25 on Nasdaq.
The cases are SEC v. NIC Inc et al, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, No. 11-02016, and SEC v. Kovzan in the same court, No. 11-02017.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)