A Bloomberg report
citing "a person familiar with the matter" indicates that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun a probe into the disclosures made by Apple regarding Steve Jobs' health, to determine if in fact investors may have been misled.
The "Steve Jobs Health Story" has taken on a life of its own, in a soap opera-ish way. First it was noted at last year's WWDC conference that Jobs look gaunt and tired. There were multiple denials over any health issues by Apple and Jobs, including a December report by Jim Goldman where he said that "sources inside the company tell me that Jobs' decision was more about politics than his pancreas."
However, as recent as early January Jobs admitted he was skipping Macworld because of a "hormone imbalance" which sounded innocuous (but could have meant more). Then last week, the hammer fell (on the stock) when he said he was taking a medical leave through the end of June.
And last week Bloomberg reported that insiders have told them Steve Jobs is mulling over a liver transplant.
Every time one of these news items / rumors appeared (including a fake
story last year about a heart attack), Apple stock would dive. As an analyst said to Steve Wozniak recently
, "He is such
a part of the value of that stock."
That said, an SEC investigation, as well as possible shareholder lawsuits, are to be expected. James Cox, a law professor at Duke University told Bloomberg:
"The good news flipped by the bad news makes one wonder what Apple knew. It's not surprising for the SEC to come in and look afterward, given the pressure and publicity regarding their handling of a lot of cases."
Yes, he's thinking of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, among others.
Still this seems rather uncharted territory, and once again delves into just how much of a person's life, CEO or not, should be public knowledge. It would also be hard to prove exactly how much Apple knew. Of course, Steve Jobs is a unique case, with his near-cultish following.