EMI is denying published reports that it attempted to manipulate Nielsen SoundScan data. California State Senator Kevin Murray is investigating claims made by a former EMI employee, according to the r

EMI is denying published reports that it attempted to manipulate Nielsen SoundScan data. California State Senator Kevin Murray is investigating claims made by a former EMI employee, according to the reports.

Gene Rumsey, a former executive VP at EMI Music Distribution, reportedly testified in a sworn deposition last December that EMI hired marketing consultants who would trade free goods with retailers in exchange for fradulent additional scans of albums. Rumsey, who left the company two years ago and now works for Concord Records, estimated that the practice occurred on less than 10% of EMI releases, according to reports.

Rumsey's testimony came as part of a lawsuit between EMI and a label it had distributed, Avatar Records. EMI sued Avatar for breach-of-contract last April, claiming the indie owes $1 million.

EMI says in a statement that it does not engage in the alleged manipulation practices. The company calls the allegations "a red-herring attempt by Avatar to divert from a lawsuit EMI filed to recover more than a million dollars Avatar owes EMI from a former distribution deal."

While the allegations concern past attempts to manipulate Nielsen SoundScan data, the media-tracking company questions the effectiveness of such efforts.

"We have multiple levels of systems and safeguards in place to recognize and deal with attempts that might be made to skew the results," says Rob Sisco, president/COO of Nielsen Entertainment's East Coast operations.

Murray's office reportedly has communicated with EMI about the claims. However, he has made no decisions about how to proceed.