First Solar Says SEC Investigating Possible Reg FD Violation

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- First Solar ( FSLR) disclosed in its annual 10-K filing this week that it is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for a possible violation of Regulation FD.

The issues behind the potential Regulation FD violation are related to the Department of Energy's decision to not provide loan financing for First Solar's Topaz solar project , first reported here.

Regulation Fair Disclosure mandates that publicly traded companies cannot selectively disclose any non-public information of a material nature.

First Solar stated in its 10-K that on Sept. 23, 2011, it informed the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company was opening an internal investigation regarding a possible violation of Regulation FD. The company stated that the possible violation arose in connection with disclosures on Sept. 21, 2011, relating to the failure of the Topaz Solar Farm project to meet the deadline to receive a federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Following completion of the company's internal investigation, First Solar appointed a new vice president of investor relations, David Brady.

The SEC, pursuant to an order dated Nov. 17, 2011, is investigating the matter, according to the First Solar 10-K, and the solar company said it is cooperating with the SEC's investigation.

First Solar shares have declined 15% this week after fourth-quarter earnings and the 2012 outlook portrayed a solar company in the midst of a critical yet uncertain long-term strategic shift. First Solar also disclosed panel performance issues related to intense heat operating conditions.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York

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