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While a few of those 38 terminations may turn out to be the result of such activity, it's likely that the vast majority fell on their swords to avoid sullying the good names of their companies.
Of course, they may have actually been pushed on their swords by their boards, but let? In the case of Apple, not only did the board send two sacrificial lambs to slaughter, but the feds hung some pretty hefty charges on their necks to boot. VP, General Counsel, and Secretary Nancy Heinen, and former CFO and director Fred D. The SEC's complaintfocuses on the backdating of two large option grants, one of 4.8 million shares for Apple's executive team and the other of 7.5 million shares for Steve Jobs.
But the charge bears the echoes of the stock options backdating scandal that started before the global economic collapse and extended beyond, making executives wealthier at the expense of shareholders.
In backdating, a board would edit the original option grants, changing the date to one when the price was lower, letting a person pay less and instantly net more money. Although in theory legal, “the place where these companies got into trouble was in the accounting,” said Robin Ferracone, CEO of executive compensation consultancy Farient Advisors. Such companies as Broadcom, Apple, Deloitte & Touche, and others got caught up in investigations.
That means the company incurs an expense equal to the difference in the share price between the two dates.
If you cover it up and fail to report that expense, the way Apple's folks allegedly did, well, that amounts to accounting fraud.
You'd think they'd be up to their eyeballs in rope.
I count no fewer than 38 top executives at 19 high-tech companies that have bit the dust over this stuff.