(This article was originally published on Dec. 7th, 2011)
In 2005, Anu Saad, a distinguished scientist and former Chairman and CEO of a cancer diagnostics company, was accused (along with other senior executives) of corporate financial fraud. Media coverage at that time was quick to demonize Saad, leaving out crucial details, including that the most substantial charges against her were dropped. Here, we provide a comprehensive account to elucidate the facts surrounding Saad’s case.
Dr. Saad was pursuing her dream of academic research as a member of the faculty at Cornell Medical College when she was approached by a start-up company that was attempting to refine cancer diagnosis in order to allow oncologists to make better and more targeted treatment decisions. Saad joined as Scientific Director in 1990.
Her tenure at the company spanned 13 years during which time Dr. Saad was promoted to CEO and Chairman of the board. She led the company through the transition of going public. Under Saad’s leadership the company became highly successful, and was regularly named as one of the fastest growing small companies in the U.S. This made it all the more shocking when she resigned in 2003, as a result of a disagreement with the board regarding her expenses.
According to Dr. Saad, the purchases in question were understood by her to be perks that she was entitled to as CEO. Dr. Saad acknowledged that she had occasionally charged expenses on the company credit card as compensation for other work-related expenses for which she had personally paid. She noted her missteps in managing reimbursements, and the lax attitude that pervaded the company’s financial oversight, and she voluntarily stepped down as CEO.
In 2005, Dr. Saad was dragged back into legal proceedings with the company when a series of fraud allegations were leveled against several high-ranking executives. Despite having resigned two years earlier, Dr. Saad found herself included in these charges. After an inquiry spanning several months, the US Attorneys in the Southern District of New York separated Dr. Saad’s case from the others and dropped all the primary charges against her. Only two minor charges against her persisted: one associated with the reimbursement of expenses, and the other for her lack of adequate financial oversight as CEO. Notably, she was not required to nor did she provide any evidence or testimony to the US Attorneys in their prosecution of other executives.
Dr. Saad decided to forego the trial and agreed to plead guilty to both counts and was sentenced to a three-month term at a federal correction facility. Although the prosecution had asked for a longer sentence, based on the letters of support from Saad’s friends, family, former colleagues and industry leaders, the judge decided that a reduced sentence was justified.
Since completing her sentence, Dr. Saad has focused her life on community service. In particular, she regularly assists individuals who are navigating the intricate landscape of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Her medical background and scientific knowledge enable her to continue to help others in deciphering complicated medical reports and finding suitable medical practitioners and evaluating different treatment modalities.