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Clearly, the Enron trials have not closed the book on corporate fraud.
A new boardroom scandal is roiling Wall Street: stock options backdating.
Or did a lot of CEOs just have amazingly good luck?
A stock option gives the recipient the right to purchase stock at a set price.
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“It falls on them because the statements were materially false at a time they were representing those statements were accurate,” says Mark Fickes, partner at Braun Hagey & Borden and former lead trial counsel for the SEC in the Maxim/Jasper trial.
Dozens of companies – including United Health Group, Comverse Technology, Vitesse Semiconductor and Affiliated Computer Services – have caught the eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice for the timing of their stock option grants.
The question: did these companies backdate options grants – and falsify records – to make them more lucrative for their top employees?
Jasper signed all of Maxim’s filings with the SEC at that time.
Liability was found in the Maxim case partly because backdating and a failure to expense the practice were proven, Fickes notes.