Feds indict ex-Gemstar chief

Charged with obstructing a SEC investigation

Former Gemstar-TV Guide International chairman Henry Yuen was indicted Tuesday on a felony charge that he obstructed a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Gemstar's alleged accounting irregularities.

In October 2002, the SEC began a formal investigation of Gemstar and its accounting activities from 1999-2002. Yuen was among those subpoenaed in the investigation, which required him to provide to investigators several items including all handwritten, typed or electronic correspondence and other documents concerning Gemstar.

The subpoena included documents on Yuen's computer. But according to the indictment, after Yuen received his subpoena, he deleted e-mails and Gemstar corporate documents from his computer that were subject to the court order.

In March 2003, the day before he was scheduled to testify before the SEC, Yuen allegedly ran a computer program that made it impossible to recover the deleted documents.

Whether Yuen will ever answer to the charges is a mystery. He has disappeared, and the federal government is asking anybody who knows of his whereabouts to come forward and contact the FBI in Los Angeles.

His Los Angeles attorney, David Scheper, could not be reached for comment.

The indictment comes about 18 months after Yuen and federal prosecutors had negotiated a plea agreement in which he was to serve a short sentence, possibly under house arrest. At the time, no criminal complaint had been filed against him. However, the court found the sentence too lenient, and Yuen backed out of the deal. He has since disappeared.

Yuen founded Gemstar in 1986 and was fired in 2003 after accounting problems and missing money were uncovered.

In 2006, the SEC found Yuen had committed securities fraud and ordered him to pay $22 million in penalties. They also froze $29.5 million of his severance package from Gemstar, believing that he shouldn't receive it. Last month, a judge agreed allowing the SEC to turn over the millions to Gemstar and its shareholders.