USA Technologies Says CEO Dismissed Over Online Posts

Five days after its chief executive suddenly resigned, USA Technologies (NASDAQ:USAT) has said the dismissal was related to information it acquired that suggested George Jensen was illegally posting information about the company on an online investor forum.

When the Malvern, Pa.-based provider of wireless and cashless payment technologies announced on Oct. 14 that Jensen was suddenly resigning, it initially gave no details as to why he was leaving.

But on Wednesday, USA Technologies said the decision was related to information its audit committee found regarding the former CEO’s participation on an investor forum.

The parties found that Jensen had posted about 450 comments on the Yahoo! message board primarily under the alias ‘investor.texas’ over a period of about two months. After reviewing the posts, the company’s board determined they were inappropriate.

Consulting company Kroll was also asked to assist with the investigation.

When approached, Jensen admitted he was responsible for the posts and the company acted swiftly, taking just two weeks from the time the audit committee was notified to when Jensen was suspended.

USA Technologies voluntarily reported the information to the Securities and Exchange Commission and said it will fully cooperate with any investigation of the matter. It does not believe any other employees were involved and said the posts have not had an effect on the historical financial results or audited financial statements of the company.

The incident is the “unfortunate lapse of judgment of a single individual” whose actions were “in direct conflict with the culture and expectations the company has regarding behavior of all its employees,” USA Technologies said in the filing.

“If the company takes any solace, it is in the propriety and effectiveness of its internal controls, which identified, investigated and acted upon the allegations swiftly and decisively,” the tech firm said.

Stephen Herbert has been named USA Technologies’ interim chairman and chief executive officer.

In a regulatory filing, the company said it had provided Jensen with a lump sump payment of $410,952 in one year’s base salary, vacation days and car lease fees, as well as one year’s health insurance and previously awarded company shares, as part of a separation agreement.