December 27, 2006

Apple Stock Option Case Could Hinge on False Docs

The months-long inquiry into Apple's handling of stock option irregularities could come to a head this week, as the company will be required to issue a report to the SEC on its findings by Friday, December 29th. In an insightful piece on, it is said that federal prosecutors are especially interested in "documents that were apparently falsified by company officials to maximize the profitability of option grants to executives."

The article says that the alleged falsification of records indicates the executives knew their activities were wrong, and that such behavior shows intent to defraud the public. While no individuals have yet been named as wrong-doers, most of the speculation has surrounded the company's former general counsel, Nancy Heinen, and former CFO Fred Anderson, who resigned from Apple's board in October.

The central issue around the stock option scandal is that Apple knowingly inaccurately dated option grants to make the stock issuances more favorable. While CEO Steve Jobs has so far remained above the fray, saying he was aware of some of the grants, but did not benefit from them, or understand their accounting impact, he has also retained the services of independent counsel.

AppleInsider also writes on the topic. Apple is not alone in this crisis, as the stock option backdating scandal has hit companies across Silicon Valley, including notables such as Brocade Communications and Computer Associates. Most believe that Apple will not be required to delist from the Nasdaq, given the company's prominence, though that remains a possibility.