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UPDATE 1-U.S. charges former Weber Shandwick COO with embezzlement

UPDATE 1-U.S. charges former Weber Shandwick COO with embezzlement

Reuters · 07/27/2022 17:08
UPDATE 1-U.S. charges former Weber Shandwick COO with embezzlement

Adds accusations and background about defendant, paragraphs 4-7

- U.S. prosecutors have charged a former chief operating officer of Weber Shandwick with embezzling more than $16 million from the public relations firm and, ultimately, shareholders of its parent Interpublic Group of Cos IPG.

Frank Okunak was charged with wire fraud and falsifying records, according to a Wednesday filing in Manhattan federal court. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed related civil charges against him.

A lawyer for Okunak had immediate comment.

Prosecutors said that from 2011 to around July 2020, Okunak arranged unauthorized payments to provide start-up capital for his own personal and business ventures, buy tickets and luxury boxes to sports events, and cover donations to his alma mater.

Okunak allegedly hid his conduct by preparing or arranging for false and misleading invoices to suggest the payments were being used for legitimate corporate purposes.

Authorities said Okunak joined Weber Shandwick in 1995, became COO in 2013, and was also its chief financial officer for a decade. He left in the summer of 2020.

Weber Shandwick did immediately respond to a request for comment.


(Reporting by Luc Cohen and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)

((jon.stempel@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6317; Reuters Messaging: jon.stempel.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.))