Companies backdating options

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Of course, they may have actually been pushed on their swords by their boards, but let? In the case of Apple, not only did the board send two sacrificial lambs to slaughter, but the feds hung some pretty hefty charges on their necks to boot. VP, General Counsel, and Secretary Nancy Heinen, and former CFO and director Fred D. The SEC's complaintfocuses on the backdating of two large option grants, one of 4.8 million shares for Apple's executive team and the other of 7.5 million shares for Steve Jobs.

That means the company incurs an expense equal to the difference in the share price between the two dates.

grants to one that is earlier than the actual grant date in order to place a lower exercise price on the options and thus enhance the potential profits from the exercise of those stock options.

The practice sometimes also occurs in the insurance industry, whereby policy issuers make the effective date of a policy (or claim) earlier than the application date in order to obtain a lower premium for the customer (or obtain better claim results). When he was hired, the Company XYZ board of directors offered John an attractive salary as well as an annual grant of 1,000 Company XYZ stock options.

Granting stock options to employees is a generally accepted and perfectly legal form of compensating employees. Critics of backdating argue that the practice is difficult to detect and thus encourages boards and executives to use it to synthesize more creative compensation packages.

In our example, backdating the options is the same as giving John Doe a check for ,000 -- without recording that ,000 on the within two business days.

Typically, the grant date of the stock options is the same as the date of the board meeting.

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