Elizabeth Ann Pierce, former chief executive officer of Quintillion – the Alaska-based company constructing a subsea fiber optic/broadband network – has been accused of forging contracts to obtain over $250 million in investments.
According to reports, Pierce was arrested on Thursday morning, but was released on bail following a hearing in Manhattan federal court.
Pierce was in charge of Quintillion until she resigned for ‘personal reasons’ in August last year and George M Tronsrue III was appointed interim CEO.
Reports say that prosecutors claim Pierce obtained investments in Quintillion from 2015 to 2017 by presenting false multi-million-dollar contracts with other telecommunications companies for Quintillion Subsea Cable System.
Authorities said the fraud was detected after Quintillion’s invoice was disputed by one of the telco firms based on a forged contract, which led to further investigation.
If convicted, Pierce could be looking at a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Quintillion said in a statement that it became aware of the situation regarding the alleged actions of Pierce last year and self-reported to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Quintillion values its partnerships with customers and investors and the alleged actions of Ms. Pierce are not aligned with how Quintillion conducts business. The ongoing investigation has not impacted Quintillion’s operations nor the quality of its services. Quintillion continues to move aggressively to extend its network and provide world-class telecommunications to Alaska and beyond,” the Anchorage-based company said in a statement.
In December 2017, Quintillion launched its subsea fiber optic cable system in five northern Alaska communities, following the completion of testing.
The three phase Quintillion subsea cable system is ultimately intended to connect Asia to Western Europe via the Northwest Passage through the Alaska and Canadian Arctic.
Subsea World News Staff