SkillSoft confirms SEC investigation is under way

4 Feb 2003

SkillSoft, which last year acquired Irish e-learning firm SmartForce, has confirmed that it is the subject of a formal order of private investigation entered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the controlling arbiter of deeds and misdeeds on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

The investigation has been sparked by claims of financial irregularities at SmartForce prior to its acquisition by SkillSoft.

The recent legal actions have been taken by at least three US law firms that have filed class action law suits against SmartForce and two of its executives, Greg Priest and William McCabe, on behalf of investors who lost money on shares they acquired between 19 October, 1999 and 22 November, 2002.

The three firms allege that SmartForce’s failure to supply investors with correct financial details over the previous three-year period was fraudulent, insofar as they allege that untrue statements about the company’s finances were made in order to induce the plaintiffs to buy SmartForce shares.

In a statement last night SkillSoft said that it would restate the financial statements of SmartForce PLC for the period 1999 through to June 2002.

“SkillSoft understands that the SEC’s investigation concerns SmartForce’s financial disclosure and accounting during that period, other related matters, compliance with rules governing reports required to be filed with the Commission and the conduct of those responsibilities for such matters. SkillSoft continues to co-operate with the SEC on this matter,” the company said in a statement.

By John Kennedy