A former Walt Disney Co. accountant says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company has materially overstated revenue for years.
Sandra Kuba, formerly a senior financial analyst in Disney’s DIS, -0.12% revenue-operations department who worked for the company for 18 years, alleges that employees working in the parks-and-resorts business segment systematically overstated revenue by billions of dollars by exploiting weaknesses in the company’s accounting software.
Kuba said she has met with officials from the SEC on several occasions to discuss the allegations.
A spokeswoman for the SEC declined to comment.
A Disney spokesperson said the company had reviewed the whistleblower’s claims and found that they were “utterly without merit.”
Kuba’s whistleblower filings, which have been reviewed by MarketWatch, outline several ways employees allegedly boosted revenue, including recording fictitious revenue for complimentary golf rounds or for free guest promotions. Another alleged action Kuba described in her SEC filing involved recording revenue for $500 gift cards at their face value even when guests paid a discounted rate of $395.
Kuba has also alleged that employees sometimes recorded revenue twice for gift cards, both when guests bought the gift card and when it was used at a resort. Sometimes, revenue was recorded even though a gift card was given to a guest for free following a customer complaint, for instance, according to the whistleblower’s allegations.
Kuba’s filing alleges that flaws in the accounting software made the manipulation difficult to trace, though the consequences could be significant. In just one financial year, 2008-09, Disney’s annual revenue could have been overstated by as much as $6 billion, Kuba’s whistleblower filing alleges. The parks-and-resorts business segment reported total revenue of $10.6 billion in 2009, according to its annual report filed with the SEC.