Apple options back dating

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Backdating became a big issue in Silicon Valley in 2006, when authorities began investigating scores of companies here and around the United States.

A jury found Reyes guilty on 10 counts of securities fraud, but an appellate court ruled the trial was tainted by a prosecutor’s improper statements in court. He said the practice artificially inflated company earnings and stock values, in many cases “enabling executives to reap larger cash bonuses and sell their stock at a higher price.” The government’s investigations, as well as changes in accounting rules, have made companies more sensitive to legal requirements around backdating, added Grundfest.

“There certainly were companies that were unnecessarily tortured because of backdating violations.

Another headline-grabbing case collapsed last month, when a different judge dismissed charges against two executives of Southern California chip-maker Broadcom, while overturning a guilty plea by a third executive and excoriating prosecutors for misconduct.

Nationwide, however, authorities have won at least 13 criminal convictions for backdating-related offenses, while the Securities and Exchange Commission says it brought 94 civil actions against companies and individual executives.

“Some would say it fizzled,” added defense attorney Jan Nielsen Little, who argued that a wave of investigations that shook the tech industry had turned up little evidence of wrongdoing in connection with a practice that was “widespread, albeit misunderstood.” But as authorities gear up for a retrial next month of Jensen’s former boss, ex-Brocade CEO Greg Reyes, federal officials and legal experts say the investigations found widespread accounting abuses at a host of companies.

These led to numerous civil and criminal enforcement actions that helped change those practices, they say, despite some high-profile stumbles by prosecutors in recent months.

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Hoping to spare her client from prison, an attorney for former Brocade executive Stephanie Jensen stood before a federal judge this month and argued that the furor over stock-option backdating was a “so-called scandal” that never amounted to much.

That includes Jensen, the former human resources chief at Brocade and the only Silicon Valley executive convicted to date. ’ That is often very difficult to prove,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor who has followed the backdating scandals closely.

A jury found Jensen guilty of falsifying corporate records, and after an appellate court agreed, U. District Judge Charles Breyer sentenced her to two months in prison. Henning and others say that’s undoubtedly why the SEC filed a majority of cases as civil lawsuits.

But there were other companies at which the violations were serious and had to be addressed.” Brandon Bailey can be reached at 408-920-5022.