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by Mike Caswell
Former Swisher Hygiene Inc. executives Michael Kipp and Joanne Viard, convicted for an accounting fraud that led to the demise of the former Toronto Stock Exchange listing, have lost their appeal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has upheld their convictions, finding that there was substantial evidence against them. Among other things, the pair made scores of accounting entries for the sole purpose of causing Swisher to reach its earnings targets.
The appeal ruling comes over two years after a judge in North Carolina convicted Mr. Kipp, 65, and Ms. Viard, 40, for the scheme. Prosecutors had accused them of manipulating Swisher's earnings during three reporting periods in 2011. The pair had gone through the company's books, looking for ways to "scrub the numbers" in an attempt to meet predetermined earnings targets. Had the company met those targets, Mr. Kipp would have been in line for an $88,000 bonus. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) The efforts of the pair led to investor losses that prosecutors have calculated at between $96-million and $400-million.
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