US financial regulators are said to be investigating the possibility that last week’s report that Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack was an attempt to manipulate Apple’s stock price for financial gain.
Apple stock dropped by 8% on Friday as a result of the reports, posted by a ‘citizen journalist’ on the website of US news station CNN. The cable network is understood to be ‘co-operating fully’ according to the US technology press.
The SEC has traditionally taken a very dim view of this kind of activity. Back in 2001 it successfully prosecuted a disgruntled former employee of an internet newswire service who falsely implicated storage vendor Emulexin a financial scandal.
Apple itself has not escaped the SEC’s attentions in the past. Earlier in the year regulators settled a stock options backdating case against former Apple lawyer Nancy Heinen, who is now being forced to pay back over $2m of ill-gotten gains.