SEC won’t seek monetary penalty from UnitedHealth

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement Monday on its stock-backdating settlement with UnitedHealth Group.

The agency said UnitedHealth “engaged in a long-running scheme to hide over a billion dollars in executive compensation.” By doing so, it breached its duty to shareholders to accurately report financial results.

UnitedHealth’s former CEO William McGuire agreed to a $468 million settlement in December 2007. The SEC said Monday it won’t seek a monetary penalty from the company because of its “extraordinary cooperation” with its investigation.

The company has made “meaningful remedial efforts” to recoup stock-option value for shareholders and improve its accounting controls and corporate governance policies, the SEC statement said.

UnitedHealth also issued a statement Monday in response to the SEC.

“UnitedHealth Group is pleased to have resolved this matter with the SEC and will continue to focus on serving its customers, growing its businesses, reinforcing its community and customer relationships and helping people live healthier lives,” the company said.

It stressed that as part of the settlement UnitedHealth does not admit or deny wrongdoing. It says it’s also “substantially improved its governance, administrative process and internal controls.”

The settlement is pending a federal judge’s approval.

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