On August 30, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a press release stating that it is “closely monitoring” the impact of Hurricane Harvey on investors and markets. The release focuses on issues affecting the maintenance of orderly markets, such as enabling investors to have access to their accounts, and warns that the enforcement division will be on the lookout for investment scams that can occur after a natural disaster.
Aside from mentioning the possibility of granting relief from filing deadlines for companies affected by the storm, the release does not refer to disclosure obligations arising from the storm. However, in the past the SEC has eventually focused on those obligations, scrutinizing filings and rendering comments it where it believed more disclosure was called for.
Reporting companies whose operations or performance may be affected by Hurricane Harvey should consider addressing any exposures early on, in both the historical financial information and, particularly, the MD&A, where trends and uncertainties are addressed. It seems likely that any issues calling for disclosure will remain unresolved, and will call for ongoing disclosure, for a substantial period of time.