The SEC is harsher on Dell than on Blankfein
Dell’s $100 million settlement with the SEC is notable for the fact that Michael Dell is personally being fined as well:
The SEC’s allegations with respect to Mr. Dell and his settlement are limited to the alleged failure to provide adequate disclosures with respect to the company’s commercial relationship with Intel prior to Fiscal 2008…
Under his settlement, Mr. Dell has consented to a permanent injunction against future violations of these negligence-based provisions and other non-fraud based provisions of certain federal securities laws and SEC rules. In addition, Mr. Dell has agreed to pay a civil monetary penalty of $4 million.
The size of the penalty, here, is less important than its existence: Dell is coughing up a $4 million fine for allegedly failing to provide adequate disclosures while chairman and CEO of the company.
Now cast your mind back to the Goldman Sachs settlement, where Goldman, too, was accused of failing to provide adequate disclosures. In that case, the chairman and CEO of the company, Lloyd Blankfein, paid no fine whatsoever.
A lot of people were expecting that Blankfein might have to resign as part of the SEC settlement. But in fact he didn’t even get a Dell-style slap. Maybe there’s no realistic way that Blankfein could stay on as chairman and CEO after paying the fine; Dell, as the founder of the company, is in a slightly different position. But this case does underline that the SEC wasn’t nearly as tough on Goldman as it might have been.