Apple corporation stock option backdating scandal
This process makes the granted option "in the money" and of value to the holder.This process occurred when companies were only required to report the issuance of stock options to the SEC within two months of the grant date.Corporations, however, have defended the practice of stock option backdating with their legal right to issue options that are already in the money as they see fit, as well as the frequent occurrence in which a lengthy approval process is required.In 1972, a new revision (APB 25) in accounting rules resulted in the ability of any company to avoid having to report executive incomes as an expense to their shareholders if the income resulted from an issuance of “at the money” stock options.
In this way, the exercise price of the granted option can be set at a lower price than that of the company's stock at the granting date.
The legal complaint alleged that from 1993 to 2006, the former CEO and the former chief accounting officer directed the company to engage in schemes to provide undisclosed compensation to executives and certain employees. Lin was accused of backdating stock option documents in order to give the appearance that options were granted on earlier dates than issued.
This scheme was allegedly used to the benefit of officers and employees of the company as well as its directors.
To avoid having to pay higher taxes, many companies adopted a policy of issuing “at the money” stock options in lieu of additional income, with the idea that the executive or employee would benefit through the option by working to increase the value of the company without exceeding the one million dollar deductibility cap for executive income.
When company executives discovered that they had the ability to backdate stock option grants, thus making them both tax deductible and “in the money” on the date of actual issuance, the common practice of stock option backdating for financial gain began on a widespread level.This is the granted option that would be reported to the SEC.