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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 05:47 GMT
Disney settles disclosure charges
Mickey Mouse
Several members of the Mouse family are employed by Disney
Walt Disney has settled charges from US federal regulators that it failed to disclose how family members of directors were employed by the company.

The media giant was not fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but has agreed to refrain from any future violations of securities law.

Disney failed to tell investors that between 1999 and 2001 it employed three adult children of three then directors.

The firm has neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement.

Family business

The three Disney directors in question in the central matter of the SEC's investigation - Reveta Bowers, Stanley Gold and Raymond Watson - have all since left the company, with Ms Bowers and Mr Watson both retiring, and Mr Gold quitting in 2003.

Their children were paid between $60,000 (30,800) and $150,000 a year, with shareholders not being informed.

The SEC also found that Disney did not disclose that a 50% Disney-owned subsidiary company - Lifetime - employed the wife of current Disney director John Bryson, and that she earned more than $1m a year.

Louise Bryson remains with Lifetime.

Shareholders' interests

Disney also failed to disclose payments to Air Shamrock, an airline owned by Mr Gold and fellow former Disney directors Roy Disney.

Finally, Disney also did not reveal that it provided more than $200,000 annually for office space, secretarial services, and a leased car and driver to former director Thomas Murphy.

"Shareholders have a significant interest in information regarding relationships between the company and its directors," said SEC deputy enforcement director Linda Thomsen.

"Failure to comply with the SEC's disclosure rules in this area impedes shareholders' ability to evaluate the objectivity and independence of directors."

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