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Restricted stock backdating

Apple's 30-year history is divided into three phases: the golden early years in which Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak revolutionized the computer industry (1976-1985), the dark ages in which the company floundered after Jobs was ousted (1985-1997), and the glorious restoration (1997-present), in which Jobs ushered in a new golden age, making hip new computers and revolutionizing the music and entertainment industry with the i Pod. Employees love their visionary leader who has spread options throughout the company.

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Which junior federal prosecutor will recommend indicting the guy who smashed the PC monopoly?Most employee stock options are, or purport to be, granted “at-the-money,” meaning that the exercise price of the option equals the market price of the underlying stock on the date of the grant.The stock plans of many public companies prohibit the granting of below-market options; other companies disclose in their SEC reports that stock options are granted at market and prepare their financial statements on that basis.Under most circumstances, backdating is seen as fraudulent and illegal, although there are some situations in which backdating can be used in a legal and beneficial way, such as backdating a claim for a past period.Sometimes certain claims (such as insurance claims) can be backdated if the could not be completed at an earlier date, although there must be good reason for neglecting to claim in advance.But Apple makes clear that Jobs was directly involved in some instances of backdating.

The investigation "found that CEO Steve Jobs was aware or recommended the selection of some favorable grant dates." The committee hastens to add that Jobs "did not receive or financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications." In other words, he didn't recommend backdating his own option grants.

He's a revered Hall of Famer who doesn't get whistled for fouls that send other pros to the bench. He is too popular—among investors, journalists, employees, analysts, and in the culture at large—for anyone to recommend that he be deposed. The scandals at Enron, World Com, Adelphia, and everywhere else ended the era of the rock-star CEO.

But Jobs is the lone exception, as revered today as he ever was.

As with Jordan, a different set of rules seems to apply to Jobs.

Backdating is dating any document by a date earlier than the one on which the document was originally drawn up.

The term “backdating” refers to a number of option granting practices in which the reported grant date is different from the date on which the option is actually awarded, resulting in an option that is already “in-the-money” at the time of the grant.