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General Electric Warns SEC Could Take Action Over Company's Accounting Issues

By Lou Whiteman – Oct 6, 2020 at 4:36PM

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The company disagrees with the regulator and intends to continue talks.

General Electric (GE 5.35%) said Tuesday it has been advised the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering bringing a civil injunctive action against it for possible violations of security law.

The SEC has been investigating GE's accounting practices since the company's January 2018 announcement that it was taking a massive charge following a review of its insurance portfolio, and a later October 2018 announcement of a goodwill-impairment charge in its power unit.

A stock chart.

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GE in a regulatory filing said that it was issued a so-called "Wells notice" by the SEC advising it that staffers may recommend action on GE's disclosures related to its insurance operations. The staff has not yet made a final decision to recommend action, and the Wells notice provides GE with an opportunity to respond to the accusations.

"GE disagrees with the SEC staff with respect to this recommendation and will provide a response through the Wells notice process," the company said in the filing. "If the SEC were to authorize an action against GE, it could seek an injunction against future violations of provisions of the federal securities laws, the imposition of civil monetary penalties, and other relief within the Commission's authority."

The SEC investigation is one of many issues facing the industrial conglomerate as it tries to enact a turnaround. The company, which has seen its shares fall 75% over the past five years, is trying to pay down its debt and undo issues related to years of market-topping acquisitions.

Coming into 2020, GE had hoped its massive aviation unit would perform well and help fund its restructuring. But with airlines cutting costs and shrinking their fleets due to the pandemic, that unit has turned into a drain on resources.

Lou Whiteman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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