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AT&T Sued By SEC For Providing Nonpublic Info To Analysts; AT&T Says Allegations Are Meritless

The Securities and Exchange Commission have charged AT&T with repeatedly violating Regulation FD, and three mid-level investor relations employees with aiding and abetting AT&T's violations, by selectively disclosing material nonpublic information to research analysts, allowing the company to avoid falling short of Wall Street's view.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that in March 2016 the AT&T and its investor relations executives Christopher Womack, Michael Black, and Kent Evans made private one-to-one calls to analysts at about 20 different research groups and disclosed smartphone sales data that would cause AT&T's revenue to fall short of analysts' estimates for the first quarter.

AT&T said that the allegations in the SEC's complaints are meritless. "The SEC's pursuit of this matter will not protect investors and instead will only serve to chill productive communications between companies and analysts, something the SEC was worried about when it adopted Regulation FD some 20 years ago," the company said. "Unfortunately, this case will only create a climate of uncertainty among public companies and the analysts who cover them."

The company said it "maintains the highest standards of ethics and compliance and looks forward to having our 'day in court' to demonstrate conclusively that our investor relations employees complied with Regulation FD"

"Tellingly, after spending four years investigating this matter, the SEC does not cite a single witness involved in any of these analyst calls who believes that material non-public information was conveyed to them," the company said in a statement.

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