Science & Technology

Space startup Momentus charged by SEC with misleading investors

The Securities and Change Fee on Tuesday charged embattled area infrastructure startup Momentus Space and its founder, Mikhail Kokorich, with allegedly misleading investors about its propulsion expertise and downplaying regulators’ nationwide safety considerations related with Kokorich, who’s Russian.

The SEC additionally charged the corporate, Secure Highway Acquisition Corp, that was going to amass Momentus as a part of a deal to take the startup public (and sidestep the IPO course of). Secure Highway Acquisition Corp is a SPAC, an organization that exists solely to purchase one other firm; the CEO of Secure Highway, Brian Kabot, and its sponsor SRC-NI have additionally been charged by the SEC. Everybody besides Kokorich has settled the costs with the SEC and paid a tremendous.

Momentus, based in 2017, goals to offer a “last-mile” transportation service for satellites already in orbit utilizing a novel water-based propulsion system to pull satellites into different orbits. In accordance with the SEC, Momentus wrongly advised investors it had “efficiently examined” its expertise in area; in actuality, the corporate had examined its tech in area as soon as, and failed. Secure Highway by no means reviewed the outcomes of this take a look at, in accordance with the SEC, although it claimed it had executed “intensive due diligence.” Moreover, throughout that course of, it didn’t get the paperwork wanted to evaluate whether or not Kokorich was a nationwide safety danger.

“This case illustrates dangers inherent to SPAC transactions, as those that stand to earn vital earnings from a SPAC merger might conduct insufficient due diligence and mislead investors,” SEC chair Gary Gensler mentioned in an announcement.

Momentus paid $7 million to settle; Secure Highway paid $1 million, and Kabot paid $40,000. If its proposed SPAC merger closes — anticipated in August, months later than its preliminary goal for early 2021 — the SEC will mandate “tailor-made investor safety undertakings, and the SPAC sponsor’s forfeiture of founder’s shares,” the SEC assertion mentioned.

US authorities have been involved that Momentus’ expertise may find yourself within the palms of overseas adversaries, which triggered a prolonged investigation and delayed its plan to go public, as a result of Kokrich is Russian. Kokorich resigned as CEO in January to sever the nationwide safety considerations from Momentus. The corporate’s projected worth was minimize in half, from $1.1 billion to simply $566.6 million, in accordance with a revised amended registration statement Secure Highway filed with the SEC final month.

Secure Highway’s June filing, through which it slashed Momentus’ worth, famous the corporate’s expertise was nonetheless nascent, and that “the expertise underlying its anticipated service choices (together with its water plasma propulsion expertise) remains to be within the technique of being developed and has not been totally examined or validated in area.”

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