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Activision to pay $35 mn to settle charges from US securities regulator

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Activision Blizzard will pay $35 million to settle US charges over its disclosures to investors about workplace complaints./AFP
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Feb 04, 2023 - 10:35 AM

NEW YORK — Videogame giant Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million to settle charges from a US securities regulator over its disclosure policies on workplace harassment complaints, regulators said Friday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) determined that between 2018 and 2021, Activision lacked procedures “to collect and analyze employee complaints of workplace misconduct,” the agency said in a news release.

Also, separation agreements between ex-employees and the maker of “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush” flouted an SEC whistleblower protection rule, by requiring notification to the company if they received a request for information from commission staff.

Activision’s failures “left it without the means to determine whether larger issues existed that needed to be disclosed to investors,” said Jason Burt, head of the SEC’s Denver office.

An Activision spokesperson said the company was “pleased” to resolve the matter.

“We have enhanced our disclosure processes with regard to workplace reporting and updated our separation contract language,” the spokesperson added. “Activision Blizzard is confident in its workplace disclosures.”

The company’s workplace policies came under scrutiny in the summer of 2021 following employee protests and a California state lawsuit alleging it enabled toxic workplace conditions and sexual harassment against women.

In September 2021, the company established an $18 million fund to settle claims alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination in an agreement with a different federal agency, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In January 2022, Microsoft announced a $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, but the deal has been challenged by US regulators over concerns that it would stifle competition.

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