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Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2007 blog


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  LAW BLOG on law and business and the business of law.


December 20, 2007, 9:09 am

Computer Associates Investors Received Too Much. Doh!

Posted by Peter Lattman

You’re a longtime investor in Computer Associates. You got burned by the company’s accounting fraud. As part of the company’s settlement with the company over its misdeeds, the feds struck a deal in which CA agreed to distribute $289 million to defrauded investors. You, Ms. Burned Investor, got some money back and feel pretty good about it. But weeks later, a federal court sends you a notice telling you that you were overpaid and must return a portion of the settlement money.

Bummer scenario, eh? That’s exactly what happened to thousands of investors who suffered losses due to Computer Associates’s accounting fraud. Due to an administrative error, about 3,000 were together overpaid about $50 million, which would amount to $16,700 on average. Checks were sent in November, and the deadline for returning the money is Jan. 4, according to a court order issued last week by Judge Leo Glasser in Brooklyn. Here’s the WSJ story by Law Blog colleague Nathan Koppel.

“I’m very unhappy about this,” says Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer overseeing the plan to distribute the money. “This situation is unique in my experience.” (Law Blog Biographical Tidbit: As a young federal prosecutor in the 1970s, Feinberg worked in the Manhattan office’s all-star public-corruption unit alongside Giuliani, Mukasey and Bart Schwartz.)

The overpayment error was caused by Gilardi, a settlement administration firm. The distribution plan called for investors to be paid based on their proportional losses. But after Gilardi cut settlement checks in November, it realized it had failed to pay 2,000 investors, according to a court filing. As a result about 88,000 investors were overpaid by a total of $60 million — with most of that going to the 3,000 investors with the biggest losses, many of them institutional investors. Said an executive there: “We owned the error and now we need to own the solution.”

What if overpaid investors fail to return the money? A Gilardi executive declined to say or to address who might be expected to cover any shortfall. “We are expecting to have the amounts returned.”




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