The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against Nancy Heinen, the former general counsel at Apple, saying her actions led to "fraudulent" stock option backdating at the company.
But the SEC said it doesn't plan to file any actions against Apple as a company, and simultaneously filed and settled a lawsuit against former chief financial officer Fred Anderson over his alleged participation in the backdating scandal. Fred Anderson's lawyer issued a statement after the lawsuits were announced, saying that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had been informed that the January 2001 grant date would have to be approved in a "legally satisfactory method." He said Jobs had signaled that the board had approved the dates, and that Anderson had therefore assumed the matter was being handled correctly.
The lawsuit comes after months of investigation by both regulators and Apple into the backdating, which Apple has admitted occurred in relation to two options grants made to Jobs and other executives--including Heinen and Anderson.
"Apple's shareholders relied on Heinen and Anderson, as respected legal and accounting professionals, to ensure the accurate reporting of the company's executive compensation. Instead, they failed in their duties as gatekeepers and caused Apple to conceal millions of dollars in stock option expenses," said Marc J. Fagel, associate regional director of the SEC's San Francisco regional office, in a press release.
The SEC appears unlikely to charge Jobs with any involvement in the case, which will be a relief to Apple's board of directors and investors. Anderson will pay a fine and restitution for gains made as a result of the options backdating, but admitted no wrongdoing. The SEC will seek similar penalties against Heinen, but will also push to have her barred from ever again serving as an officer or director of a public company.
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