According to the Huffington Post, the SEC is in the process of an investigation into the trading in Apple’s securities both in the US and abroad. The information was revealed in a series of documents sent to the brokerage community:
I have obtained copies of those internal SEC documents from a regulatory contact. Interestingly, the nature of its interest shows that the commission is not investigating, as is usually the case, the trading that occurred in a specific time period, but rather, in this instance, in four specific time periods. This suggests the SEC could be looking into more than one potential violation in the trading in Apple shares. What the agency is seeking in its queries to the brokerage community are the names of its clients who specifically bought and sold Apple’s securities in those four time periods and whether anyone did so with a knowledge of non-public, inside information.
According to their sources, the investigation centers on three areas:
- Whether anyone got an illegal lead on precisely how sales were faring on key items in Apple’s highly successful iPod product line.
- Whether anyone was given a precise insight into the health of the company’s co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, a cancer survivor who took a six-month leave of absence last January and then received a liver transplant. Subsequent questions about the viability of his health then led to a great deal of volatility in Apple’s shares.
- Whether anyone had exact knowledge of when specific releases would be made by the company with regard to Jobs’ health or Ipod sales and pretty much of an awareness, as well, as to what those announcements would say.
Regarding point two, there was a report in Barrons about Steve Jobs buying property in Tennessee and getting a liver transplant. The public didn’t believe this story, however. The medical staff at the hospital where he was being treated (besides the Barron’s report) kept it pretty confidential.
Some believe there is a culture of manipulation around Apple’s share prices. This piece from the Daily Show shows CNBC and The Street’s Jim Cramer explaining how to manipulate Apple’s stock (at 7:30). He even mentions that it is illegal but the SEC doesn’t understand it..
Apple stock trades aren’t the only ones under the microscope, the SEC is also looking into the buying and selling action in Biogen Idec, Human Genome Sciences, BioMS Medical Corp., Blackout Media, Location Based Technologies, Advanced Medical Optics and Hansen Medical.