SEC charges ex-Sequenom R&D chief with false claims

(Reuters) - The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it charged the former research head at Sequenom Inc for making false claims about the company’s prenatal Down syndrome test.

The regulator alleged that Elizabeth Dragon, former senior vice president of research and development at Sequenom, lied during at least three public events where she made presentations to analysts and investors.

The regulator alleged that Dragon knew the test was far less accurate than she claimed publicly.

Last April, the genetic analysis products company delayed the launch of its Down syndrome test T21 citing employee mishandling of data.

The scandal led to the removal of its top management in September, including firing of its then CEO and research chief, followed by legal and regulatory probes.

In a statement on Wednesday, the SEC said without admitting or denying the charges, Dragon has consented to a judgment permanently enjoining her from future violations of certain regulations, and barring her from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

The court will determine the amount of a financial penalty to be paid by Dragon at a later date, the regulator said.

Last month, the company said it plans to complete the studies and launch T21 as a laboratory developed test (LDT) by the end of 2011.

Sequenom shares closed at $6.29 Wednesday on Nasdaq.

Reporting by Jennifer Robin Raj in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier