Michelle Celarier, 24 March 2021
SoftBank is the subject of an active investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to PlainSite, a legal transparency initiative.
The research provider on Wednesday shared the SEC’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Aaron Greenspan, the founder of PlainSite, a joint venture of Think Computer Corporation and Think Computer Foundation.
Greenspan said the SEC probe appears to be related to SoftBank’s trading unit, SB Northstar. He told Institutional Investor that news last year about SoftBank’s options trading triggered his initial FOIA request, which was dated December 2, 2020.
In it, he requested “any investigative materials (from January 1, 2018 to the present) pertaining to the various SoftBank companies controlled by Masayoshi Son, specifically related to SoftBank’s trading of stocks and derivatives on those stocks.”
In the SEC’s response, dated March 24, the regulator confirmed that an investigation is “active and ongoing,” but refused to offer any documents related to the investigation, citing a FOIA exemption for records whose “disclosure could be reasonably expected to cause harm to the ongoing and active enforcement proceedings because, among other things, individuals and entities of interest in the underlying investigation could fabricate evidence, influence witness testimony and/or destroy or alter certain documents.”
Originally, on January 13, the SEC said it had no investigative records pertaining to SoftBank and therefore no FOIA exemptions concerning ongoing investigations would apply. At the time, PlainSite called the denial “shocking,” tweeting that “SoftBank’s multi-billion dollar market manipulation scheme was front page news worldwide.”
The latest response from the SEC confirming the existence of a probe came after Greenspan appealed the original FOIA decision.
“After rigging the Nasdaq, making front-page news and the SEC claiming it had never heard of it, the SEC now reveals that SoftBank is under federal investigation,” PlainSite tweeted Wednesday.