Saks Top Executives Ousted After Internal Investigation

Birmingham, Ala., Saks Inc. yesterday said it has ousted three top executives, including its chief accounting officer, after an internal investigation into improper collections of markdown allowances found that $20 million was inappropriately taken from vendors from 1999 to 2003.

Saks, which maintains that no improper collections seem to have taken place last year, has said that it will reimburse the vendors. The retailer is facing an informal inquiry by the Securities & Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

The company said it has sought the resignation of its chief accounting officer Donald Wright and Saks Fifth Avenue chief administrative officer Donald Watros. Senior VP and brother of Saks CEO R. Brad Martin, Brian Martin, formerly Sak’s general counsel, was also asked to resign. Saks said that other employees “directly involved in the over-collection” will also be asked to resign. Sak’s audit committee of the board of directors has also recommended the elimination of bonuses for both its CEO and CFO, according to reports.