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Liberty Tax Names New CEO

Nicole Ossenfort, Liberty TaxTroubled Liberty Tax has named three new executives, including Nicole Ossenfort, who was appointed president and CEO. The company parted ways with Ed Brunot, who joined as COO on June 1 and who became CEO in September. The new executives appear to be allies of ousted CEO John Hewitt.

The company has been in turmoil since the board of directors fired founder Hewitt in September. That followed an investigation which revealed employee complaints that Hewitt was heard having sex in his office and had favored those employees with whom he had romantic relationship.

However, through his control of the stock's Class B shares, Hewitt replaced two directors involved in his termination while another resigned. 

Liberty has not reported the executive changes to the SEC as of this moment. However, Brunot was reportedly fired, according to the publication, the Virginia Pilot. A request has been made to Liberty concerning how it is describing Brunot's departure.

Other new officers are COO Shaun York, who owns multiple franchise stores and who has been a consultant for Liberty's operations, and chief strategy officer Ryan Dodson, an area developer for Liberty in three areas in North Carolina and Tennessee.

The turmoil has cost liberty its outside auditor, KPMG, which resigned after on December 11. According to a press release from Liberty the firm cited concerns about internal controls over financial reporting "as it relates to the integrity and tone at the top set by Liberty's founder, current Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer, John Hewitt."

Liberty has also been sued by a pension fund which holds a stake in the company and class action suits have been filed. There was a February 18 court deadline for those who wish to be named lead plaintiff.

The company has not yet filed its financial report for the first quarter ended October 31 and has received a notice from NASDAQ that is not in compliance with listing requirements. NASDAQ has also issued a non-compliance warning about the company's failure to have an audit committee comprised by independent directors, following the changes to the board.

Ossenfort, a franchisee since 2002, operates offices in South Dakota and Wyoming and was an area developer from 2004 through September 2017. She was VP of Liberty's 360 Accounting Solutions business from April through October 2017. Hewitt appointed William Minner, Jr to fill Ossenfort's board seat.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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