updated 03:30 pm EST, Fri January 30, 2009
SEC targeting Jobs leave?
The focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the health of Steve Jobs is likely to concentrate on his sudden leave of absence, a source tells Bloomberg. The departure of the Apple CEO is viewed as sudden, having come just nine days after he admitted to a "hormonal imbalance" with simple if prolonged treatment. SEC efforts are being directed from a San Francisco office, the source says, and will also concentrate on the development of Jobs' diagnoses.
Former SEC chairman Harvey Pitt comments that the problem with Jobs' statements is that in order for both of them to be accurate, something new and critical must have been learned in between. "If he didn't learn anything new in that intervening one-week period," says Pitt, "then the question is why did he make the first statement, and why shouldn't that statement be deemed false?"
A former senior counsel for the SEC, Jahan Raissi, further notes that the disclosures must not have been partial or reckless. Bloomberg, however, observes that plausible excuses may well exist, such as honest misinterpretation of a doctor's opinion. The SEC may also be impeded by legal precedent, which has traditionally safeguarded privacy when it comes to health issues, according to an associate professor of securities law at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Lisa Casey. While companies are required to reveal data material to investors, nothing specifically requires the announcement of executive medical concerns.