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SEC charges two companies with fraudulent Covid-19 claims

Federal Issues Covid-19 SEC Securities Enforcement Civil Money Penalties

Federal Issues

On May 14, the SEC announced separate charges against two companies claiming to offer products to combat the Covid-19 virus in violation of the antifraud provisions of federal securities laws. One of the SEC’s complaints alleges the company issued a press release on March 31 advertising finger-prick Covid-19 tests that could be used at home and in schools, when in actuality the tests could be administered only in consultation with a medical professional and were not intended for home use by the general public. Moreover, the company failed to disclose the product was not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In the second complaint, the SEC alleges a company and its owner issued press releases claiming to sell, through a public and private partnership, thermal scanning equipment to detect fevers, that would help to “break[] the chain of virus transmission through early identification of elevated fever, one of the key early signs of COVID-19.” However, the SEC argues the company did not have an agreement to sell the product, nor did it have a partnership with any government entities.

In both complaints, the SEC alleges that the false or misleading statements materially affected the price of each company’s stock after the releases were made. The SEC is seeking permanent injunctive relief and civil penalties against both companies.

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