Systemax Inc. to fire one of its top execs

Gilbert Fiorentino

Gilbert Fiorentino

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Port Washington-based electronics retailer Systemax Inc. will fire one of its top executives, based on the results of an investigation prompted by anonymous whistle-blower allegations about its Miami operations, the company said yesterday.

Systemax operates online through TigerDirect.com and in retail stores under the Circuit City and CompUSA brands.

The termination comes after the company negotiated settlements with the Florida attorney general and with federal prosecutors after numerous complaints that Systemax promised consumer rebates but failed to honor them.

Gilbert Fiorentino, chief executive of the technology products group and a member of the Systemax board of directors, was the subject of a company audit committee's investigation with the help of independent counsel, the company said.

The company said it told Fiorentino "that it intends to terminate his employment, pursuant to the terms of his employment contract." Fiorentino has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately.

Systemax did not disclose whether the firing was linked to an October settlement between Bill McCollum, Florida's attorney general, and Systemax subsidiaries TigerDirect and Onrebate. Systemax settled with Florida by agreeing to pay $300,000 to settle claims that it failed to pay advertised rebates to customers.

Fiorentino's replacement is Robert Leeds, appointed as interim chief executive for the technology products division.

Systemax has not publicly specified the nature of the allegations, though it made general statements about its investigation in a March filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said its investigation does not appear to require a restating of past financial filings.

"The allegations did not have a material impact on Systemax's previously reported financial results and were limited to the Company's Miami operations," Systemax said. "The company expects normal business operations to continue for its technology products group businesses."

The company's online bio of Fiorentino says he is a founder of TigerDirect, and joined Systemax when it bought TigerDirect in 1995. He was promoted to run worldwide technology products for Systemax in 2004, and the same year was appointed to the Systemax board.

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