Apple Stock Options Fallout Continues

With Apple's annual SEC statement due Friday and the pending restatement of historical financial statements, Law.com reports that Apple may be under increased scrutiny by the SEC due to apparently deliberately falsified documents by company officials to maximize the profitability of option grants to executives.

In June, Apple began an internal probe of stock option grant "irregularities", the results of which saw the departure of former CFO Fred Anderson from Apple's board amid findings of "serious concern" regarding two former officers. Law.com labels Anderson and former general counsel Nancy Heinen as those former officers.

Over 100 companies including Microsoft, CNet Networks, and Computer Associates are in similar situations, and the falsification of documents appears to be a key element under scrutiny in SEC investigations which may lead to criminal charges.

"When there are falsified documents, the government views them as an intent to defraud, because people generally don't falsify documents unless they're trying to make things different from reality," said Keith Krakaur, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York working on backdating cases. [...]

Krakaur and other defense lawyers -- including several in San Francisco who asked to remain anonymous for fear of affecting local probes -- said government lawyers are focusing on falsified records as a means of proving that executives knew their actions were wrong. "They view that as intent," he said. (Ed Note: Krakaur is not personally involved in the Apple case)

Current officers including CEO Steve Jobs were largely cleared from involvement by the independent investigation. Still, it appears as though Jobs has sought independent counsel beyond Apple's lawyers in dealing with the matter.

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