In an interesting twist to the high-profile stock options backdating probe that has been ongoing for over a year at Apple, former CFO Fred Anderson is claiming that he warned Apple CEO Steve Jobs about the financial and legal repercussions of his backdated option grant, and that Jobs had given him assurances that the grant was board-approved.
The Wall Street Journal (Paid Subscription Required) has Mr. Anderson's full statement, which in part reads:
Fred was told by Steve Jobs in late January 2001 that Mr. Jobs had the agreement of the Board of Directors for the Executive Team grant on January 2, 2001. At the time Mr. Jobs provided Fred this assurance, Fred cautioned Mr. Jobs that the Executive Team grant would have to be priced based on the date of the actual Board agreement or there could be an accounting charge. He further advised Mr. Jobs that the Board would have to confirm its prior approval in a legally satisfactory method. He was told by Mr. Jobs that the Board had given its prior approval and the Board would verify it. Fred relied on these statements by Mr. Jobs and from them concluded the grant was being properly handled.
The SEC has yet to respond to these specific allegations. A previous report by Mercury News indicated that there has been a lack of evidence to support criminal charges against Mr. Jobs.
Anderson has recently settled with the SEC regarding his involvement in the ordeal, having admitted no guilt but having to pay a $150,000 fine in addition to paying back the received grants. Separately, the SEC is pursuing legal action against former general counsel Nancy Heinen, which she plans to contest.
Interesting - I was suspicious of Anderson seeming to take the fall but settling for such a serious charge - I knew he had to divulge some sort of important information.
[UPDATE] The Apple Board Of Directors released this statement:
"We are not going to enter into a public debate with Fred Anderson or his lawyer. Steve Jobs cooperated fully with Apple's independent investigation and with the government's investigation of stock option grants at Apple. The SEC investigated the matter thoroughly and its complaint speaks for itself, in terms of what it says, what it does not say, who it charges, and who it does not charge. We have complete confidence in the conclusions of Apple's independent investigation, and in Steve's integrity and his ability to lead Apple."