Nvidia has agreed to settle $5.5 million to pay claims that it illegally concealed how the majority of its graphics cards were offered to miners of cryptocurrency. It was announced that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has announced the charges and the deal against the business this morning. The order says Nvidia had misled investors into reporting a significant increase in revenue attributed to “gaming,” hiding how the company’s success was heavily dependent on the more volatile cryptocurrency market. Nvidia does not admit to any infractions within the terms of the settlement, however, it is obligated to end any illegal omissions to reveal details.
The charges are based on Nvidia’s fiscal year 2017 financial statements. The SEC states that Nvidia witnessed a surge in sales related to crypto mining in 2017 when the benefits of mining Ethereum increased dramatically. Crypto mining was often cited as the reason for GPU shortages and Nvidia introduced a distinct CMP line that was specifically designed dedicated to mining in an effort to stop supply issues that gamers might experience. However, employees seemed to be aware that a lot of gaming GPUs were still being used by the mining. “The company’s sales personnel, in particular in China, reported what they believed to be significant increases in demand for Gaming GPUs as a result of crypto mining,” the company’s order states.
Due to the volatility of cryptocurrency, it means that Nvidia’s sales figures didn’t necessarily reflect a steady growth rate in the future which made investing in it more risky. “NVIDIA’s analysts and investors were interested in understanding the extent to which the company’s Gaming revenue was impacted by crypto mining and routinely asked senior management about the extent to which increases in gaming revenue during this time frame were driven by crypto mining,” the SEC asserts.
However, Nvidia didn’t mention mining-related sales as a reason for its gaming division’s performance. It also made mention of crypto as a major element in other markets that suggesting that to SEC they were deliberately deceitful. The investors’ concerns were proven to be legitimate. The cryptocurrency crash of late 2018 (along with an eroding Chinese market) resulted in it having to cut its earnings forecasts for the quarter in half by $500,000, and caused the filing of a shareholders’ lawsuit.
“NVIDIA’s disclosure failures deprived investors of critical information to evaluate the company’s business in a key market,” says SEC Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit head Kristina Littman. “All issuers, including those that pursue opportunities involving emerging technology, must ensure that their disclosures are timely, complete, and accurate.”