Sierracin, an embattled Sylmar aerospace company whose chairman has been accused in lawsuits of misusing company funds, disclosed Monday that it is the subject of a formal Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
In a brief announcement, Sierracin said the probe involves company activities from 1983 to 1986. Sierracin said it believes that it has complied with federal securities laws and said that it is cooperating in the investigation.
A Sierracin spokesman said the company would have no further comment. Last fall, the company, which makes aircraft cockpit windshields and other aerospace and electronics products, confirmed that the SEC was conducting an informal investigation.
Two people familiar with the SEC inquiry said investors were looking into such areas as the spending of company money by Sierracin Chairman Christoph Tribull, possible changes in corporate minutes, possible stock manipulation and whether directors were kept fully informed of Sierracin developments by Tribull.
Officials of the SEC, which typically does not comment on pending investigations, could not be reached.
Tribull in the past three years has been accused in lawsuits of fraud, extravagant spending, stock manipulation and even making death threats. Lawsuits were filed by company officials and investors. Tribull, who has a controlling interest in Sierracin of close to 45%, and his lawyer have denied the allegations.
One lawsuit filed by dissident shareholders Herbert and Euretta Hastings, for example, alleged that Sierracin paid $12,500 for Tribull's polo playing fees, $1,914 in air fares and other expenses for his Argentine polo pony trainer and thousands of dollars in expenses for women they described as Tribull's girlfriends. The suit has yet to be resolved.
Tribull has also been accused in court filings of trying to depress the company's stock price so he could buy shares cheaply, attempting to destroy the careers of his rivals and threatening the lives of former director Berenice Stevenson and former Sierracin President Peter K. Maeussnest, both of whom sued Sierracin and Tribull.
In April, Sierracin settled for an undisclosed amount the lawsuit filed by Stevenson, according to her lawyer, Clifford Hemmerling.
In the nine months ended Sept. 30, Sierracin's earnings nearly tripled to $1.5 million, with about $400,000 of the increase due to tax credits. Revenue rose 2%, to $54.9 million.
On Monday, Sierracin's stock fell 37.5 cents a share to close at $4.375 in trading on the American Stock Exchange.