At the end of last week, the SEC announced that it had filed settled charges against eight companies for failing to disclose in their Form 12b-25 filings (Form NT Notification of Late Filing) that their late filings of periodic reports were caused by an anticipated restatement or correction of prior financial reporting. The staff detected the violations through the use of data analytics in an initiative aimed at Form 12b-25 filings that were soon followed by announcements of financial restatements or corrections. According to Melissa Hodgman, the new (again) Acting Director of Enforcement (following the abrupt resignation of the prior Director), “[a]s today’s actions show, we will continue to use data analytics to uncover difficult to detect disclosure violations….Targeted initiatives like this allow us to efficiently address disclosure abuses that have the potential to undermine investor confidence in our markets if left unaddressed.” Is it just more “broken windows”? Maybe, maybe not. The Associate Director of Enforcement hit on a central problem from the SEC’s perspective with deficiencies of this type: “In these cases, due to the companies’ failure to include required disclosure in their Form 12b-25, investors relying on the deficient Forms NT were kept in the dark regarding the unreliability of the company’s financial reporting or anticipated material changes in operating results.” These charges should serve as a reminder that completing the late notification is not, to borrow a phrase, a trivial pursuit and could necessitate substantial time and attention to provide the narrative and quantitative data that, depending on the circumstances, could be required.
Corp Fin issues two new CDIs regarding Rule 12b-25 in the context of the SEC’s conditional relief order
The Corp Fin staff has issued two new CDIs regarding Rule 12b-25 in the context of the SEC’s conditional relief order. That order extends for 45 days the filing periods for specified SEC filings due between March 1 and July 1, 2020. (See this PubCo post.) Both of the CDIs reaffirm that companies must comply with the conditions of the order, particularly the Form 8-K/6-K requirement, to take advantage of the relief. Companies that are unable to comply “are encouraged to contact the staff to discuss collateral consequences of late filings.”