Are springing penalties a thing? SEC charges Plug Power with accounting, reporting and control failures
In this Order, the SEC brought settled charges against Plug Power, Inc., a provider of green hydrogen and hydrogen-fuel-cell solutions, for financial reporting, accounting and controls failures in connection with a variety of the Company’s complex business transactions. The failures required Plug to restate its financial statements for several years. In the restatement, Company management identified a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting and ineffective disclosure controls and procedures, allegedly “due to Plug Power’s failure to maintain a sufficient complement of trained, knowledgeable personnel to execute their responsibilities for certain financial statement accounts and disclosures. Despite these control deficiencies, the Company raised over $5 billion from investors during the relevant Filing Period.” According to the SEC, Plug’s “material weakness in ICFR and ineffective DCP have not been fully remediated,” and the Company is continuing its remediation efforts. Plug agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1.25 million and to implement a number of undertakings, including an undertaking “to fully remediate the Company’s material weakness in ICFR and ineffective DCP within one year” of the SEC’s Order. Should Plug fail to comply with those undertakings, the Company will be required to pay a “springing penalty,” an additional civil penalty of $5 million.