David M. Colburn, head of America Online Inc.’s (AOL) business affairs unit, left the company Friday amid dual government investigations into whether the company fudged its earnings results through a series of unconventional deals, AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOLTW) confirmed Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the parent company declined to comment on whether Colburn quit or was fired.
News of Colburn’s departure comes as the deadline for executives to sign off on their latest quarterly earnings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rapidly approaches.
Although executives at AOLTW have said that they intend to pledge for the validity of the company’s latest earnings report by the SEC’s 5:30 p.m. EDT deadline today, as of Wednesday morning they still had not done so. The spokeswoman said, however, that the company would be announcing its filing status by this afternoon.
AOLTW already faces a significant loss in investor confidence as both the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have recently launched investigations into the company’s accounting practices. The probes were spurred by a series of articles in the Washington Post last month alleging that the company engaged in a string of unusual deals in an effort to shore up revenues in its ailing AOL Internet unit.
Colburn’s departure heightens speculation over the allegedly dodgy deals, which were forged under his rein.
The Post reported in its online edition Wednesday that Colburn was relieved of his day-to-day duties in business affairs late last month, and moved to strategy issues instead. His exit came just days after AOL got a new chief executive, Jonathan Miller.
Stock in AOLTW (AOL) dipped 2.13 percent in morning trading Wednesday to US$10.57.
According to the SEC, Apple executives Steve Jobs and Fred Anderson filed their statements of validity for Apple’s financial records on August 8, 2002.