Backdating pay

Since the advent of stock option backdating, corporate policies have moved first toward a posture of encouraging backdating as a standard business practice, but then toward a posture of avoidance as public scandals emerged and investigations into fraudulent or dishonest business practices increased despite a commonly held belief that backdating was an acceptable and legal practice.In the modern business world, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has all but eliminated fraudulent options backdating by requiring companies to report all options issuances within 2 days of the date of issue.If a company grants options on June 1 (when the stock price is 0), but backdates the options to May 15 (when the price was ) in order to make the option grants more favorable to the grantees, the fact remains that the grants were actually made on June 1, and if the exercise price of the granted options is , not 0, it is below fair market value.Thus, backdating can be misleading to shareholders in the sense that it results in option grants that are more favorable than the shareholders approved in adopting the stock option plan.

One of the larger backdating scandals occurred at Brocade Communications, a data storage company.

This is not always the case, according to a ruling by federal judge William Alsup of the U. District Court for the Northern District of California.

According to Alsup’s reasoning and subsequent ruling, it is improper to infer fraudulent activity based solely on the occurrence of options backdating – further facts must be present and proven before the act can be considered to be fraudulent.

Cases of backdating employee stock options have drawn public and media attention.

According to a study by Erik Lie, a finance professor at the University of Iowa, more than 2,000 companies used options backdating in some form to reward their senior executives between 19.

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It was forced to restate earnings by recognizing a stock-based expense increase of $723 million between 19, after allegedly manipulating its stock options grants for the benefit of its senior executives.

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