Symantec faces $145M penalty in US govt probe

The security software firm may be required to cough up as much as US$145 million in damages following an investigation into its sales and pricing practices for government contracts.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

Symantec could be made to pay as much as US$145 million in damages as a result of an investigation into its sales and pricing practices for U.S. government contracts.

The security software firm had met with government representatives last month, when they were given the figure for potential damages in relation to a probe stemming from Q1 2013, according to its filing on Sunday.

The investigation involved Symantec's compliance with government contracting rules, including "provisions relating to pricing, country of origin, accessibility, and the disclosure of commercial sales practices", said the company.

"We are currently in the process of evaluating the government's initial analysis. It is possible that the investigation could lead to claims or findings of violations of the False Claims Act, and could be material to our results of operations and cash flows for any period," said Symantec in its statement.

The company added payment could ultimately be somewhere between one and three times the actual damages proven by the government, plus civil penalties in some cases, depending upon a number of factors.

In 2012, Symantec was taken to court over claims that the company's flagship anti-malware and performance software suites misled consumers into buying full versions of its products through the use of scare tactics. The claims suggested the software range would always report harmful errors, privacy risks and other issues that exist, regardless of whether they actually existed.

Last week, Symantec reported a better than expected third quarter despite a 5 percent drop in revenue on-year to US$1.7 billion, posting a profit of US$283 million. CEO Steve Bennett said that the company saw "improved total business activity" after revamping its sales organization.

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