The Securities and Exchange
Commission is investigating stock sales by Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos
just before a negative report on the company was released, The New York Times
Documents filed with regulators on Feb. 2 and Feb. 5
indicated that Bezos intended to sell 800,000 shares of Amazon stock worth
roughly $12.2 million.
A week earlier, Amazon executives received an
advance copy of a research report compiled by Lehman Brothers that questioned
the company's ability to continue operating through 2001.
The report also
speculated that Amazon's deteriorating financial situation could subject it to a
credit squeeze later this year.
Bill Curry, a spokesman for the Internet
retailer, said Bezos had sold the stock in an effort to generate capital and
diversify his holdings and that it had nothing to do with the Lehman report.
"There was nothing new in the report, and indeed the stock went up that day
after the report was released because there was nothing new in it," Curry told
The sale also fell within a trading window in which executives
would be allowed to divest their shares, Curry said.
It is not clear how
many shares Bezos sold because SEC filings only indicate an intention to sell.