A jury convicted former Iconix Brand CEO and founder Neil Cole of securities fraud and other charges in federal court on Monday.
The guilty verdict — on one count of securities fraud, six counts of making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and one count of improperly influencing audit conduct — followed a four-week retrial.
A previous jury acquitted Cole a little over a year ago on two counts of conspiracy but failed to reach a verdict on other charges.
“We will continue to fight and believe there are significant issues for the appeal,” Sean Hecker and David Oscar Markus, attorneys for Cole, said in an emailed statement. “The first jury acquitted Neil of two conspiracy counts, so we are of course disappointed in this verdict on the other counts.”
In its original indictment of Cole, the DOJ accused the former chief of inflating Iconix’s revenue and earnings in 2014 to meet analyst estimates through a scheme wherein partners in international joint ventures overpaid to buy into the venture, with Iconix reimbursing those partners later. (Cole stepped down from Iconix in 2015.)
Prosecutors deemed the transactions as fraudulent and “lacking in economic substance,” and said they helped the company meet investor expectations and appear to be performing better than it was in reality.
“Cole tried to hide his conduct behind tricks and lies, but the truth is now clear: Cole cooked the books,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a press release. “This verdict sends a message that this Office is committed to holding corporate executives accountable when they resort to fraud, no matter how long it takes. Wall Street should know that we will not be deterred from seeking justice in tough cases.”
Each count that Cole was convicted on carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. Sentencing has not been scheduled yet.