It had appeared that the SEC (US financial watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission) investigation into Apple boss Steve Jobs’ award of backdated stock options in 2001 had been closed, with Jobs in the clear.
His former chief financial officer Fred Anderson, however, wasn’t so lucky and on Tuesday agreed to pay the SEC $3.5 million to settle its case against him, while making "no admission or denial of the claims by the SEC."
Backdated stock options were legal in 2001, but the discrepancy between the price of the backdated stock and its actual market value at the time of issuing had to be properly accounted for. Failure to do so is, apparently, a crime as it can distort the overall accounts.
In addition to paying back his option gains Anderson issued a statement addressing the backdated ‘Executive Team grant’ that he had been accused of overseeing.
"Fred was told by Steve Jobs in late January 2001 that Mr Jobs had the agreement of the Board of Directors for the Executive Team grant on Jan. 2, 2001," his lawyer Jerome Roth said in a statement on Tuesday.
"At the time Mr Jobs provided Fred this assurance, Fred cautioned Mr Jobs that the Executive Team grant would have to be priced based on the date of the actual Board agreement or there could be an accounting charge," the statement said.
If the SEC concludes from this that Anderson’s activities were done with Jobs’ full knowledge it could decide to reopen the case against him. Apple said in December it would take an $84 million charge for misdating more than 6,400 stock options.