The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that California-based Mattel Inc. has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle charges relating to misstatements in its third and fourth quarter 2017 financial statements. Separately, the SEC is initiating litigation against Joshua Abrahams, a former audit partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, or PwC, to determine whether he engaged in improper professional conduct and violated auditor independence rules.
According to the SEC’s order, Mattel understated the tax-related valuation allowance for the third quarter of 2017 by $109 million and overstated the tax expense for the fourth quarter of 2017 by the same amount. As a result, Mattel’s third quarter and fourth quarter 2017 net loss and net loss per share were understated by 15% and overstated by 63%, respectively. In addition, the SEC’s order finds that, at the time, Mattel had no internal control specifically related to calculating a valuation allowance. As explained in the order, until Mattel’s November 2019 restatement, the $109 million tax expense error remained uncorrected, and the lack of internal control for financial reporting related to the error remained undisclosed. As alleged, neither Mattel’s CEO nor audit committee was informed of the $109 million error.
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