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Dell banks $100 million to settle fraud charges

By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Dell has set aside $100 million for a potential fraud settlement, the company said Thursday, as it nears a resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission of a mysterious case that has plagued the company for more than five years.

The government first launched an investigation into the computer giant in August 2005, alleging violations of securities laws, including fraud related to Dell's financial reporting and to its disclosures about its financial dealings with chipmaker Intel. The investigation also includes allegations against the company's chief executive, Michael Dell.

The SEC charges against Dell extend to CEO Michael Dell.

It is still unclear exactly what Dell did wrong. After an internal review that was completed in 2008, the company acknowledged accounting irregularities, and it adjusted its financial results from between 2003 and the first quarter of 2007.

But neither the SEC nor Dell have stated the exact nature of the charges, and the company declined to comment on the allegations.

The company said that Michael Dell is directly implicated in the SEC's charges. He would be subject to a fine should the case be settled, but would be allowed to continue as CEO and chairman of the board.

Dell's announcement is a sign that a resolution with the SEC is likely, said spokesman Jeff Blackburn. But he said negotiations are ongoing, and the company would not give a timeframe for when the settlement might be paid.

In an official statement, Dell Director Sam Nunn said he is hopeful that the company can soon put the matter behind it.

"The independent directors of the board have affirmed that Michael Dell will continue to lead the company as its chairman and CEO, and he continues to have our complete confidence and support," Nunn said.

Shares of Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) fell more than 2% after hours after rising by more than 2% during normal trading hours Thursday. To top of page

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