Bubble Wrap maker Sealed Air facing a grand jury probe, company confirms

Local Bubble Wrap maker Sealed Air said in a securities filing it is facing a grand jury probe
Local Bubble Wrap maker Sealed Air said in a securities filing it is facing a grand jury probe AP file photo

Less than two months after announcing it had fired its chief financial officer amid a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, Charlotte-based Sealed Air said in a securities filing it is now facing a grand jury probe.

In its quarterly report released Friday, the company said it has received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of N.C. for documents on that firing and on its selection of its independent audit firm beginning with fiscal year 2015.

The company said it was cooperating with the SEC and the U.S. Attorney.

Sealed Air terminated CFO Bill Stiehl in June 2019 “for cause” amid a SEC investigation into the company’s accounting practices. The company appointed James Sullivan as its new CFO.

Stiehl had been CFO at Sealed Air since the fall of 2017. His firing followed an internal review of the board of director’s audit committee, the Observer reported in June.

Stiehl intends to “vigorously contest” his firing and denied there was any grounds for it, Stiehl’s attorney, Josh Van Kampen, said in an email to the Observer in June.

Dual investigations

Sealed Air disclosed it was being investigated by the SEC in August 2018.

“The Company is fully cooperating with the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and cannot predict the outcome or duration of either of those investigations,” Sealed Air said in its latest securities filing.

Sealed Air also added the investigations to the list of risk factors to the business in its securities filing.

If the SEC or the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Sealed Air with any violations, the company could be fined or penalized, the company said.

The company did not release any more detailed information on the two investigations Friday.

“Sealed Air is not able to comment beyond what is already disclosed,” Sealed Air spokeswoman Pam Davis said in an email Friday.

A Fortune 500 fall

In July 2014, Sealed Air announced plans to move its headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte – generating excitement at the time for another Fortune 500 company in the city.

Sealed Air fell off the Fortune 500 list this year, and is now ranked 555, according to Fortune’s latest ranking.

The company announced major restructuring to cut costs late last year, and fell short of job-creation goals as part of its incentives deal with the city and county, the Observer reported in June.

Sealed Air employees about 15,500 people globally. It said it would create 1,262 jobs in Charlotte by the end of 2017, but the company told the Observer in June that it employs just more than 1,000 people at its Charlotte campus.

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Hannah Smoot covers business in Charlotte, focusing on aviation and health care. She previously covered money and power at The Rock Hill Herald in South Carolina. She is a lifelong North Carolinian and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.