Big Lots has reported that it’s CEO and president of the Ohio closeout retailer 61-year-old Steven Fishman would soon step down as chairman. This announcement seems directly linked to news about an ongoing investigation into alleged insider trading by Fishman. Back in March Fishman unexpectedly and outside of his normal trading schedule dumped $10 Million worth of Big Lots stock, this did not go unnoticed and when little more than a month later that same stock plummeted by a quarter suspicions rose. The CEO is now caught up in an ongoing criminal probe to determine if negative information was kept from investors.
The latest news reports that an Atlanta based law firm of Holzer, Holzer & Fistel filed a class action lawsuit against Big Lots, saying the company “knew but failed to adequately disclose that its consumables line was deteriorating.” The lawsuit also claims that the company didn’t adequately inform it’s investors “that its margins and prospects were being adversely impacted by consumers making purchases of big ticket products online.”
Just what does Big Lots have to say about this? Well, Big Lots says there is no relation to Fishman’s departure or any ongoing investigation. “Unequivocally, Steve’s announcement to retire once a replacement has been found has nothing to do with the recent (Wall Street Journal) article or criminal probe,” Charles Haubiel, Big Lots’ top lawyer, told The Columbus Dispatch. “It’s a shame that someone who has done so much good for the company and the community has to have this cloud from someone trying to tie him into an SEC investigation.”