Dell will restate its earnings for fiscal years 2003 through 2006 and the first quarter of 2007 after an internal audit found that certain employees had changed corporate account balances in order to meet quarterly financial targets, the company said on Thursday.

In the new financial results, Dell will cut a total of $50 million to $150 million of net income from its previously reported cumulative total of $12 billion for the entire period. That translates to a reduction in Dell earnings of $0.02 to $0.07 per share from a cumulative total of $4.78 per share, Dell said.

The company also plans to fire, fine or reprimand certain employees for their roles in the scheme. While Dell did not name any people involved, it indicated that the investigation had reached high levels of management.

"The investigation found evidence that, in that timeframe, account balances were reviewed, sometimes at the request of or with the knowledge of senior executives, with the goal of seeking adjustments so that quarterly performance objectives could be met," the company said in a release.

"The accounting errors and irregularities that will be corrected are significant because of the combination of the number of issues involved, the qualitative nature of many of the issues, and in some cases, the dollar amounts involved," Dell said.

Dell began the audit in August 2006 after learning that it was the target of an accounting investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). That investigation is still ongoing, Dell said.

The company plans to share more details with investors in a conference call later on Thursday evening Central Time.