A recently filed legal complaint alleges that Sealed Air’s deduction of $1.49 billion in connection with a settlement of asbestos liabilities was actually done for the improper purpose of artificially inflating the Company’s financial results. The complaint further alleges that Sealed Air fired one auditor and hired another for an improper purpose – namely, to facilitate Sealed Air’s efforts to engage in accounting fraud.
On August 6, 2018, Sealed Air disclosed receipt of a subpoena from the SEC concerning the Company’s accounting for income taxes, financial reporting, and disclosures. This news drove the price of Sealed Air stock down over 5% on August 7, 2018. Thereafter, on June 20, 2019, the Company fired CFO William Stiehl for cause after completing an internal investigation and receiving a second SEC subpoena.
If you invested in Sealed Air prior to Summer 2018 and suffered significant investment losses, you may have a potential claim. While a class action may be appropriate for some investors, many investors may end up with a better recovery by filing an individual case, in many instances those can be customer dispute claims against the broker-dealer and/or financial advisor that recommended the investments and those claims can be processed privately through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Office of Dispute Resolution. FINRA claims are typically faster and more efficient than court claims, and they provide investors with a private arbitration process (without depositions) an opportunity to resolve their dispute.
Brokerage firms and financial advisors have an obligation to sell suitable investments to their clients. If the brokerage firm or financial advisor fails to do so, they can be liable for investor losses. Brokerage firms also have obligations to perform due diligence on investments such as SEE before they are sold to investors, so that the firms can disclose the material risks and characteristics of the investment to their customers. If a brokerage firm fails to perform adequate due diligence, or fails to disclose the material risks in a fair and balanced manner and investors suffer damages as a result, the brokerage firm can be liable for losses.