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Businesswoman faces SEC fine over fraud charges

A Spokane Valley businesswoman will pay a $35,000 fine to settle fraud charges filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

Diane Kayser, 51, was alleged to have committed fraudulent accounting when she was chief financial officer of Excelligence Learning Corp., a Monterey, Calif.-based educational-products company.

The SEC complaint filed in a San Jose federal court said Kayser, back in early 2005, hid unpaid company invoices in her office and manipulated Excelligence’s records in order to boost company financial reports.

As part of the settlement Kayser, who currently works at the Spokane Valley office of Windermere Real Estate, neither denied nor admitted the allegations. Kayser said she had no comment on the settlement.

The civil complaint alleged Kayser also lied to auditors and falsely certified that Excelligence’s financial reports were accurate.

The result, said the SEC complaint, fraudulently overstated the company’s fiscal 2004 earnings by about 10 percent.

The investigation showed “the wacky things people do at the end of the quarter to make the numbers,” said Cary Robnette, an assistant district administrator at the SEC’s San Francisco office

Kayser resigned in September 2005, a month after the company announced an SEC probe of its accounting. Excelligence issued restated earnings earlier this year for fiscal 2004 and the first quarter of 2005.

SEC staff attorney Carolyn Samiere said Kayser acted alone. Other terms of the settlement include Kayser’s agreeing not to serve as an officer or director of a public company for five years. She also agreed to not practice before the SEC as an accountant for five years.