June 6, 2008, 12:00 AM

SEC ends two-year-old investigation of Overstock.com

No action will be taken against the e-retailer or its officers, Overstock.com says. Chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne says the probe was prompted by complaints from traders who have been trying to benefit from lowering the value of the company’s stock.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ended a two-year-old investigation of Overstock.com Inc. and will recommend no action against the online retailer and its directors, the company announced today.

Chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne says the investigation was prompted by complaints from short sellers-traders who bet against a company’s stock-who were trying to profit by driving down the value of the company’s shares.

"I believe that this inquiry was initiated, and persisted, because of false allegations made by a cohesive group of short sellers and a few financial journalists who dutifully serve them,” Byrne says. “In this case, I believe these folks fomented the SEC investigation against Overstock.com then tried to claim that the existence of an SEC investigation was evidence of wrongdoing. We knew that was false."

Overstock.com, No. 30 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, disclosed in May 2006 that the SEC had initiated the investigation and says it cooperated with the regulatory agency. The company specializes in selling excess inventory online at discount prices.

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