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Backdating scandal

Anderson settled his case, but Heinen is still on the hook and expects to go to trial sometime next year.

But as yet another executive who was once close to Jobs comes under the backdating cloud, one has to wonder: Is Jobs as innocent as Apple Inc. Or is the government afraid to go after one of the most respected leaders of American business? You can put him up there with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett," said Peter Henning, a professor who studies white-collar crime at Wayne State University in Detroit and one of the few legal scholars still paying attention to stock-options backdating.

"If you are going to put a case against him, you had better be sure it's a strong case." To be sure, regulators have in the past gone after celebrity business leaders.

The reason for doing this was simple: stock options priced at or above where the stock is trading (aka, "out of the money" options) get favorable tax treatment compared to stock awards priced below the market price (aka, "in the money" options).

It was a tax advantaged way for companies to pay executives. Shareholders were correctly told the number of options granted and the price of the options.

Options backdating is the practice of altering the date a stock option was granted, to a usually earlier (but sometimes later) date at which the underlying stock price was lower.

This is a way of repricing options to make them valuable or more valuable when the option "strike price" (the fixed price at which the owner of the option can purchase stock) is fixed to the stock price at the date the option was granted.

The total compensation to executives granted back-dated options was either unchanged or, perhaps, lower than it would have been, since people tend to irrationally over-value a bird in hand (in the money options) to a dozen in the bush (out of the money options).

But it all became worse than a pseudo-scandal, in fact.

The SEC’s opinions regarding backdating and fraud were primarily due to the various tax rules that apply when issuing “in the money” stock options vs.

the much different – and more financially beneficial – tax rules that apply when issuing “at the money” or "out of the money" stock options.

have led to the resignation of dozens of top executives and investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors. 29, Apple discussed the report and accounted for the impact of the earnings restatements in its 10-Q.