Corel's Cowpland disputes insider charges

Corel's Cowpland disputes insider charges

Michael Cowpland, the president and chief executive officer of Corel, disputed charges filed on Thursday by the Ontario Securities Commission accusing him of three counts of violating Ontario securities law.

The commission charged Cowpland with using insider information about a lower-than-expected quarterly financial report for Corel's third quarter of 1997 to sell 2.43 million shares of Corel stock for about $US14 million, said Frank Switzer, manager of corporate relations for the Ontario Securities Commission.

The commission also charged Cowpland's personal holding company, M.C.J.C. Holdings, with a single count of violating Ontario Securities law, Switzer said.

"He is charged with what is commonly known as tipping, with making insider trading and with making a misleading statement to the securities commission. The holding company of which he is a director did the trade," Switzer said. "We allege he was in possession of a material fact that Corel would fall short of the forecast for the third quarter of 1997 by a significant margin."

The commission administers and enforces securities legislation in the province of Ontario. Corel is based there in the city of Ottawa.

In a statement released by Corel on Thursday, Cowpland said: "I am looking forward to finally having a chance to clear my name by responding to these matters which are now more than two years old." The statement called the investigation a private matter between the commission and Cowpland which would not affect the company's day-to-day business nor his position with the company.

Cowpland has been chief executive officer and president of Corel since he founded the company 14 years ago.

If found guilty, he could receive a sentence of up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $US700,000 and be forced to pay a penalty of up to three times the profit gained from the trade in question. The commission has not disclosed the profit from the trades.

Cowpland and his holding company are prohibited from engaging in any trades for the next 14 days, although he is appealing the order.

In its statement of allegations, the commission said Cowpland's holding company sold the Corel shares from August 11-14, 1997 after Cowpland was informed by a Corel vice president that the company would fall short of forecasted sales. The new information was not disclosed to the public, the commission said.

Corel shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange rose 6.67 per cent on Thursday, ending at $6.50, up 40 cents.

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