Joseph Nacchio, former chief executive of Qwest Communications International Inc. may soon face civil charges over improper accounting at the No. 4 U.S. local phone company, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
The Journal’s report comes after a person familiar with the situation told Reuters on Friday that Qwest had agreed to pay $250 million to settle SEC financial and disclosure fraud charges, without admitting or denying wrongdoing.
According to the Journal, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently sent a “Wells notice” to Nacchio indicating that its enforcement staff plans to recommend civil charges.
A Wells notice gives a recipient a chance to respond to show why charges should not be brought.
Nacchio might face charges related to helping Qwest improperly inflate revenue, the newspaper said, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Denver-based Qwest, the dominant local phone company in 14 U.S. states from Minnesota to Washington, restated $2.5 billion of revenue for 2000 and 2001. Nacchio resigned from the company in June 2002.
In a statement, a spokesman for Nacchio told the newspaper his client has cooperated fully with government authorities.
The statement also said Nacchio “consistently stated, and states today, that he did nothing wrong in his tenure at Qwest,” and that the SEC inquiry appears to focus on actions approved by many other senior people at Qwest, as well as outside legal and accounting professionals.
A call to Qwest was not immediately returned. Spokesman Bob Toevs on Friday said the company is cooperating with the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice in their probes.