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    Coke Concedes Unlawful Finances

    Beverage giant acknowledges improper financial provisions with three suppliers.

    ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola acknowledged yesterday it had made improper "financial arrangements" with three suppliers of its soft-drink-fountain dispensers at both convenience stores and restaurants throughout the United States, and that the Securities Exchange Commission has launched an informal investigation.

    Additionally, the company acknowledged a former employee had tampered with a market test of a Frozen Coke at 10 Burger King restaurants in Richmond, Va., in early 2000.

    Coca-Cola's audit committee stated the $9 million aftertax charge the company will take to correct its accounting records is not "financially significant."

    This follows former employee Matthew Whitley's wrongful termination suit, claiming Coke conspired with its equipment suppliers to disguise the troubled rollout of a new soft-drink dispenser called the iFountain through a plan of overbilling for old products and underbilling for the iFountain.

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