U.S. SEC charges former McDonald’s CEO with making false, misleading statements to investors

U.S. SEC charges former McDonald’s CEO with making false, misleading statements to investors

Then-McDonald’s CEO Stephen Easterbrook speaks during a grand opening ceremony in Chicago, Ill., on June 4, 2018.Scott Olson/Getty Images

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday charged former McDonald’s Corp Chief Executive Stephen Easterbrook with making false and misleading statements to investors about the circumstances of his 2019 termination.

The SEC hit Easterbrook with a five-year officer and director bar and a $400,000 civil penalty.

McDonald’s fired Easterbrook in November 2019 for exercising “poor judgment” by engaging in a relationship with a McDonald’s employee, the SEC said.

But Easterbrook failed to disclose other additional violations of company policy he committed by engaging in undisclosed relationships with other employees of the fast-food giant, it said.

The agency also charged McDonald’s MCD-N with “shortcomings” in its public disclosures related to Easterbrook’s ouster, but did not impose any fines on McDonald’s due to the firm’s “substantial cooperation” with the investigation, the SEC said.

Attorneys for Easterbrook, who consented to the order but did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings, did not respond immediately to calls for comment. McDonald’s said in a statement that the settlement reinforced the fact it held Easterbrook “accountable for his misconduct.”

In 2021, Easterbrook returned over $105-million he received as a severance package in 2019 and apologized to the company to settle a lawsuit over the alleged cover-up.

“We fired him, and then sued him upon learning that he lied about his behavior,” the firm said in its statement on Monday.

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