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SEC Orders Global To Restate 'Swaps'

Oct 22, 2002 | Washington Post The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered Global Crossing Ltd. to subtract the revenue from a series of controversial deals from its financial statements, a change that is expected to reduce its earnings for the first nine months of 2001 by $13 million.

Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, said the change would be included in its revised financial statements for 2001. The company previously reported a net loss of $4.7 billion during the period.

The Justice Department and the SEC are investigating more than a dozen deals that involved Global Crossing and several other major telecommunications companies during 2000 and 2001. Investigators are looking into allegations that the companies artificially inflated their revenue by simultaneously buying and selling to each other rights to use their vast fiber-optic networks. In many cases, the companies recorded the revenue from these "swaps," but not the offsetting expense of the purchase.

After the deals first began to attract federal scrutiny earlier this year, the SEC ruled that it was improper to report income from the transactions as revenue.

Unlike some other companies, Global Crossing said it only recorded the revenue it was actually paid from the long-term deals in its financial statement for 2001. That revenue totaled up to $19 million for the first nine months of 2001. The change will reduce its originally reported revenue of $2.437 billion for the period by less than 1 percent.

Many of the swaps were contracts with terms as long as 20 years and values of as much as $100 million. The company originally recorded the value of the contracts in its list of assets and liabilities but said yesterday that it would reduce its total assets and liabilities for the period that ended Sept. 30, 2001, by $1.2 billion each.

It is unclear when the company will finally issue its revised financial statements for 2000 and 2001, a company spokeswoman said last night. Global Crossing has announced plans to emerge from bankruptcy sometime next year.

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