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SEC investigating hospital operator HCA: report

2009-10-07 7
   
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résuméWASHINGTON The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether HCA Inc, the biggest U.S. hospital chain, violated securities law by manipulating its books and records, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Citing documents and peo
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SEC investigating hospital operator HCA: report


WASHINGTON The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether HCA Inc, the biggest U.S. hospital chain, violated securities law by manipulating its books and records, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Citing documents and people familiar with the investigation, the newspaper said the SEC was probing whether Nashville-based HCA fabricated tens of thousands of payments for phantom nursing shifts.

The investigation has focused, at least in part, on the company's London subsidiary, the newspaper reported.

HCA confirmed that it has been contacted by the SEC as part of an ongoing probe, the report said.

The SEC has been coordinating with investigators at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs in London, according to the documents.

A former HCA finance employee has alleged that up to 120,000 nursing shifts might have been improperly booked and paid for, the Washington Post reported.

The newspaper quoted a company statement as saying HCA received a voluntary request for information from the SEC.

"We have provided requested information and look forward to working with them to conclude this inquiry," the statement said. The company said the allegations under investigation are unfounded.

"We are aware that a former employee in our London payroll department is seeking money in a civil employment lawsuit, and she has made assertions about the accuracy of our nurse scheduling systems and the related compensation paid in our six UK hospitals," the HCA statement said. "Her allegations have no merit, and we are vigorously defending the employment litigation."

An SEC spokesman declined to comment, the report said, adding that the agency opens many investigations each year, and most do not lead to formal action. (Writing by JoAnne Allen; editing by Chris Wilson and Valerie Lee)

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