SeaWorld disclosed April 12 that it had received a Wells notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that recommended legal proceedings be brought against the theme park.
SeaWorld said its Wells notice indicates the SEC believes the company violated U.S. federal securities laws.
In a SEC filing, SeaWorld stated the legal actions could involve civil or administrative actions or proceedings, an injunction, a cease-and-desist order, disgorgement, pre-judgment interest, and civil money penalties.
SeaWorld indicated to shareholders in June 2017 that the SEC and Department of Justice has been investigating the company since August 2014. The company stated the investigation was in regards to “disclosures and public statements made by the company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, and trading in the company’s securities.”
SeaWorld stated it has been cooperating with the SEC regarding its investigation inquiry.
SeaWorld also noted that a Wells notice is not a formal allegation or a finding of wrongdoing. Recipients of Wells notices are allowed to respond to the SEC to explain their actions.