Former Chief Financial Officer of Bankrate Inc. Sentenced To 10 Years in Prison for Orchestrating a Complex Accounting and Securities Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON – The former chief financial officer of Bankrate Inc., a publicly traded financial services and marketing company formerly headquartered in North Palm Beach, Florida, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for orchestrating an accounting and securities fraud scheme that caused more than $25 million in shareholder losses.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida and Inspector in Charge Delany DeLeon-Colon of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group made the announcement.
Edward J. DiMaria, 53, of Fairfield County, Connecticut, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida, who also imposed three years of supervised release and ordered DiMaria to pay restitution in the amount of $21,234,214. On June 28, DiMaria pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to making false statements to a public company’s accountants, falsifying a public company’s books, records and accounts, and securities fraud; and one count of making materially false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“While serving as Bankrate’s CFO, Edward DiMaria blatantly manipulated the company’s publicly reported financial statements by repeatedly lying and directing others to lie to auditors, regulators, and shareholders,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “The significant sentence handed down today underscores the serious nature of corporate fraud and the damage it causes to shareholders and to the public’s trust in our financial markets. The sentence also demonstrates the Department’s commitment to prosecuting corporate misconduct to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has an extensive history of investigating complex financial fraud schemes in order to protect investors as well as the integrity of the financial marketplace from fraudulent activities by trusted insiders who abuse their positions,” said Inspector in Charge Delany DeLeon-Colon. “Anyone who engages in this type of financial fraud scheme should know they will be found and they will be held accountable.”
As part of his guilty plea, DiMaria admitted that between 2010 and 2014 he directed and conspired to commit a complex scheme to artificially inflate Bankrate’s earnings through so-called “cookie jar” or “cushion” accounting, whereby millions of dollars in unsupported expense accruals were purposefully left on Bankrate’s books and then selectively reversed in later quarters to boost earnings. In addition, DiMaria admitted that he conspired with other Bankrate employees to misrepresent certain company expenses as “deal costs” in order to artificially inflate publicly reported adjusted earnings metrics. DiMaria made materially false statements to Bankrate’s independent auditors to conceal the improper accounting entries, and he caused Bankrate’s financial statements filed with the SEC to be materially misstated, he admitted.
Hyunjin Lerner, Bankrate’s former vice president of finance, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy. Lerner was sentenced by Judge Moore earlier this year to serve 60 months in prison.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s National Headquarters Fraud Team investigated the case. Assistant Chief Henry Van Dyck and Trial Attorneys Emily Scruggs and Jason Covert of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The SEC also provided assistance in this matter.
Potential victims of the scheme can find information about their rights under relevant law at the following website: www.justice.gov/criminal-vns/case/edward-j-dimaria.