VeriSign to Restate $250M Following Options Probe

Internet security company VeriSign will be forced to
restate as much as $250 million in earnings during 2001 to 2005 and part of
2006 due to what it termed “incorrect measurement dates” and other
administrative blunders.

The non-cash charge to the financial
statements for periods 2001-2005 is not expected to exceed $250 million, the company said in a statement. The investigation is ongoing.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign said it is evaluating its internal
controls on financial reporting and is in talks with its accounting firm,
KPMG.

VeriSign expects the internal investigation to conclude by the end of the
year, at which time the company will file a restated earnings report with
the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The decision comes as the company’s internal probe into past stock option
practices continues.

Prior to today’s news, VeriSign was told by the Nasdaq stock exchange that delays
in filing financial information in August and November put the company in
noncompliance. The online security firm is also fighting Nasdaq delisting.

Although stock-option grants are often seen as a
valuable incentive to attract and retain top employees, dozens of companies
have run afoul of new laws that change how those stock options are counted.

Online job site Monster today announced the termination of Myron Olesnyckyj, the company’s senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, following Monster’s review of stock-option grant
practices. The dismissal of Olesnyckj by the Monster board of directors follows the executive’s suspension in September.

Monster’s founder and CEO, Andrew McKelvey, was one of several company CEOs who
resigned in October
as a result of unrelenting questions over the practice
of granting backdated stock options.

Other company executives to lose their posts due to questionable stock-option
grants included George Samenuk, the CEO of security vendor McAfee, and Shelby
Bonnie, co-founder and CEO of online news company CNet.

As internetnews.com reported, the stock options backdating scandal began
earlier this year when a public interest group, the Center for Financial
Research and Analysis, published a survey indicating the tech industry was
heavily involved in the practice of backdating options.

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