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SEC to probe Apple on Steve Jobs' health issues?

US regulator scrutinising disclosure

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Apple reportedly faces a review by US regulators to ensure investors weren’t misled by the firm’s disclosure regarding boss Steve Jobs’ health problems.

According to Bloomberg, the Securities and Exchange Commission isn’t investigating evidence of any wrongdoing. Instead it will look into how the information surrounding Jobs’ announcement about taking medical leave from the company was handled.

Jobs, who revealed in August 2004 he had undergone surgery to remove a tumour from his pancreas, said last week that he would take a leave of absence from his position as Apple CEO so he could focus on health issues that were "more complex" than he originally thought.

The company has had a difficult start to 2009. Jobs issued a statement at the start of January in which he said the Macworld trade show would go ahead without him while he received treatment for a “straightforward” hormone imbalance.

A week later Jobs said the diagnosis had changed and that he had no choice but to step down from Apple for six months to focus on his health.

But investors, fanboys and the press are still pushing for more answers from the man who is viewed by many as Apple’s saviour.

Bloomberg reports that the SEC could only mount a case against Apple if it could show the Cupertino-based firm tried to benefit by withholding information about an “unambiguous diagnosis”, according to former federal prosecutor and SEC lawyer, Peter Henning.

“It would be difficult, and certainly a new area of the law,” he said. “You would have to pin down exactly what they knew, and with a health issue – unlike a merger or a decline in revenue – it’s not subject to definitive answers.”

Apple, which could not be reached for comment, is due to announce its first quarter fiscal results for the three months ended 31 December later today. ®

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