Apple Stock Option Probe Escalates

Apple Computer Inc.  said it may have to restate
past financial results after uncovering additional accounting regularities
during its internal investigation into stock option grants.

The computer maker, which will also delay filing its results for the current
quarter, said the restatements would include non-cash charges for
compensation expense relating to stock option grants made between 1997 and
2001.


Apple said in a statement it has not determined the amount of the charges,
taxes and accounting impact, or which periods may require restatement.


For those reasons, the company filed a form 8-K stating that financial
statements, earnings and other communications issued by the company from
Sept. 29, 2002 are unreliable.


“The company is focused on resolving these issues as quickly as possible and
plans to file its Form 10-Q and any required restated financial statements
following completion of the investigation,” Apple said.


Apple did not respond to calls or e-mails seeking comment.


What is known is that Apple enlisted outside counsel in June after it said
that it had some concerns about its accounting of certain stock option
grants.


One of the grants in question was to CEO Steve Jobs, but Apple claimed it
was cancelled and resulted in no financial gain to the CEO.


“We are focused on resolving these issues as quickly as possible,” Jobs said
in a statement in June.


A week later Apple said it was being sued in two California courts for
claims against current and former officers and directors with respect to the
company’s awarding of stock option grants.


While Apple is being cagey about the irregularities, the updates filtering
from the Cupertino, Calif., company come against a backdrop of some of the
most serious stock option scandals in history.


Last month, the SEC, FBI and California prosecutors came
down
hard on former Brocade Communications Systems  CEO Greg Reyes and Stephanie Jensen, former vice president
of human resources, charging them with federal securities fraud.


Reyes and Jensen, like many other current and former executives at companies
like Mercury
Interactive
, Sycamore Networks and other high-tech concerns, are accused
of backdating documents to indicate stocks options granted were issued at a
time when the stock’s value was actually lower.


While executives at those companies have yet to be formally charged, Reyes
and Jensen could receive 20 years in prison, along with $5 million in fines
for granting backdated stock options to employees between 2000 and 2004.

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