Nvidia has been fined $5.5 million (£4.4 million) following an investigation by the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which found Nvidia failed to properly disclose the impact of crypto mining in sales of its gaming GPUs.
A statement was issued by the SEC last night (May 6) which states Nvidia “failed to disclose that cryptomining was a significant element of its material revenue growth from the sale of its graphics processing units (GPUs) designed and marketed for gaming.”
While you might think the investigation relates to the current chip shortage, which has been exacerbated by the massive demand for GPUs by crypto miners, the fine actually relates to Nvidia’s 2018 fiscal year, when crypto mining was starting to take off.
As the SEC notes: “As demand for and interest in crypto rose in 2017, NVIDIA customers increasingly used its gaming GPUs for cryptomining.”
The problem is that Nvidia failed to let shareholders know that the significant growth in earnings was due to a “volatile business,” which meant investors didn’t have the necessary information to decide whether the past performance was indicative of future performance.
Today we announced settled charges against NVIDIA Corporation for inadequate disclosures concerning the impact of cryptomining on the company’s gaming business.
— U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (@SECGov) May 6, 2022
What the SEC found particularly egregious, however, is that Nvidia did make statements about how other parts of the business did benefit from the demand for crypto, but omitted gaming from such statements.
This created the impression that Nvidia’s gaming business was not significantly affected by crypto mining.
Nvidia, for its part, does not admit the SEC’s findings, but has agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay the £4.4 million penalty.
In other words, Nvidia chose to settle the case on the basis of not admitting any wrongdoing, in order to avoid a harsher ruling by the SEC and a potentially bigger fine.