The publisher is paying up to close out the SEC probe
Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million to settle charges from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These charges included allegations that it failed to maintain proper workplace disclosure procedures, and violated an SEC whistleblower protection rule.
The SEC investigated into Activision Blizzard, charging that it did not have proper procedures for documenting workplace misconduct complaints. Because of this, it would not be able to adequately disclose whether misconduct problems merited disclosure to shareholders. Additionally, the SEC charged that Activision Blizzard was found in violation of a whistleblower protection rule.
Activision Blizzard agreed to a cease-and-desist order and a $35 million penalty, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.
“The SEC’s order finds that Activision Blizzard failed to implement necessary controls to collect and review employee complaints about workplace misconduct, which left it without the means to determine whether larger issues existed that needed to be disclosed to investors,” said the SEC’s Denver regional office director Jason Burt in a statement. “Moreover, taking action to impede former employees from communicating directly with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation is not only bad corporate governance, it is illegal.”
“We are pleased to have amicably resolved this matter,” Activision Blizzard spokesperson Joe Christinat told The Verge. “As the order recognizes, we have enhanced our disclosure processes with regard to workplace reporting and updated our separation contract language.”
The still-lingering future
These issues stem back to July 2021, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed suit against Activision Blizzard, alleging harassment and discrimination at the company. It’s taken a long road from there, winding into other inquiries and the news that Microsoft is looking to acquire the publisher.
The acquisition of Activision Blizzard is still in limbo, as Microsoft tussles with the Federal Trade Commission over whether its $68.7 billion purchase will be approved.