United Rentals dismisses president, CFO

United Rentals announced Aug. 16 it has terminated the employment of John Milne, the company’s president and chief financial officer, because he was unwilling to respond to questions relating to a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry.

The company said in a press release it is searching for a new CFO.

In August of last year United Rentals announced the SEC was conducting a non-public, fact-finding inquiry of the company. The SEC notice stated the inquiry does not mean it has concluded the company broke the law.

United Rentals’ board of directors announced July 14 it had determined Milne failed to perform his duties and could be terminated if the failure was not remedied. At that time, Milne informed the committee of the board looking into the SEC inquiry he was not currently willing to respond to its questions. The board notified Milne he would have the 30-day cure period provided by his employment agreement.

The committee is analyzing several short-term, equipment sale-leaseback transactions that occurred in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and resulted in the company reporting aggregate gross profit of $12.5 million, $20.2 million and $1.5 million, respectively. The committee has said there is information suggesting the accounting for some of the transactions was incorrect. The SEC inquiry relates to a range of the company’s accounting practices and is not confined to a specific period.