Regulator plans to fine Nortel $100m for alleged fraud

US regulators plan to fine Nortel Networks as much as $100 million for using allegedly fraudulent accounting to meet company targets and Wall Street expectations, an Associated Press report, quoting the Wall Street Journal said.

The Associated Press report said the US Securities and Exchange Commission intends to seek the fine against the Canadian company in the first application of a new policy requiring staff attorneys to get approval from the SEC commissioners before entering into settlement talks with companies on fines.

The SEC plan regarding Toronto-based Nortel was reported by the Wall Street Journal Online and Bloomberg News.

SEC spokesman John Nester in Washington and Nortel spokesman Jay Barta in Toronto declined to comment, the report said.

The SEC and the Ontario Securities Commission have been investigating the company's accounting for several years, it added.

Nortel has been trying to recover from an accounting scandal that forced it to restate profit by $3.4 billion in 2005 and brought shareholder lawsuits, regulatory investigations and the firing of top executives, including former chief executive Frank Dunn.

The Ontario agency reached a settlement with the company two weeks ago in which Nortel agreed to pay the equivalent of around $1 million. The company neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing, the report said.