US Regulator to Review Sam Altman’s Correspondence for Potential Investor Misinformation at OpenAI

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is examining the internal communications of OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, as part of an investigation to ascertain whether the company’s investors were misled, reveals The Wall Street Journal, citing sources.

SEC’s Request to OpenAI

According to sources, the regulator requested for office correspondence from current and former officials and directors of OpenAI following the board of directors’ decision in November to fire Altman and exclude him from the board. In December, the SEC directed a request to OpenAI for document submission.

Less than two weeks later, Sam Altman was reinstated as CEO of OpenAI. However, he was not included in the reshuffled board of directors. Two new board members have sought an analysis of Altman’s firing circumstances from the law firm WilmerHale.

Expected Outcome of the Investigation

WilmerHale’s investigation is expected to conclude in a few weeks, after which the company will provide its analysis of the events leading to Altman’s dismissal. Informed sources say the report will mainly focus on the board’s dismissal of Altman and the top manager’s reaction to the developments.

Some sources suggest that, judging from the questions being asked by the WilmerHale lawyers, the firm is more focused on the events of November and the role of the board of directors. The broader analysis of Altman’s management style over many years seems to be receiving less priority. However, one Wall Street Journal source claims that lawyers posed questions about both topics.

Back in November

The Wall Street Journal reported in November that with the leadership changes, OpenAI’s top managers started receiving questions from regulatory and law enforcement agencies, including the Manhattan Federal Prosecutor’s Office, about allegations of Altman’s insufficient candor by the board of directors. The investigation into the matter is still ongoing, according to sources.

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