SEC Fines Ex-McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook has misled investors about his firing

Former McDonald’s CEO Stephen Easterbrook unveiled the company’s new corporate headquarters during a grand opening ceremony June 4, 2018 in Chicago

Scott Olson | Getty Images

The Securities and Exchange Commission has indicted the former MC Donalds CEO Steve Easterbrook on Monday misrepresented his November 2019 firing.

Easterbrook has agreed to a $400,000 fine, without admitting or denying the claims, and is barred from serving as an officer or director of an SEC-reporting company for five years.

McDonald’s board fired Easterbrook in 2019 over a consensual relationship with an employee that violated the company’s fraternization policy. However, he was not fired for good cause, so he was able to receive severance pay.

Months later, the fast-food giant sued its former chief executive, alleging he committed fraud and lied to cover up further improper relationships with employees. In December 2021, the two parties settled the lawsuit, and McDonald’s successfully recovered Easterbrook’s $105 million settlement.

A representative for Easterbrook was not immediately available for comment Monday.

“When senior executives corrupt internal processes to manage their personal reputations or to line their own pockets, they are violating their fundamental duties to shareholders, who are entitled to transparency and fair treatment by executives,” said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC Division for enforcement. in an opinion.

The agency also found that McDonald’s violated the Stock Exchange Act, which prohibits the company from material misrepresentation and omissions in proxy statements sent to shareholders but does not fine McDonald’s financially for its “substantive” cooperation with the agency during its investigation .

McDonald’s has neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings. In a statement, the company said the SEC’s actions reinforce what it previously said about how to deal with Easterbrook’s wrongdoing.

“The company continues to ensure that our values ​​are part of everything we do, and we are proud of our strong ‘Speak Up’ culture, which encourages employees to report behaviors by employees, including the CEO, that fall short of our expectations. ‘ said McDonald’s.

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