Backdating of options


Basically, a stock option is a contract right to purchase an amount of stock at a set price for a period of time.For instance, if a stock was worth a share, a stock option may grant an option holder the right to purchase

Basically, a stock option is a contract right to purchase an amount of stock at a set price for a period of time.For instance, if a stock was worth $10 a share, a stock option may grant an option holder the right to purchase $1,000 shares at $10 a share for a period of 5 years.

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Basically, a stock option is a contract right to purchase an amount of stock at a set price for a period of time.

For instance, if a stock was worth $10 a share, a stock option may grant an option holder the right to purchase $1,000 shares at $10 a share for a period of 5 years.

Unlike the abusive corporate tax shelter ploys which often involve complex manipulation of a transaction to achieve tax results that are inconsistent with the economic reality of the deal, stock option backdating is a relatively crude device: A corporation merely changes the date that a stock option was actually granted to an earlier time when the stock price was lower.

,000 shares at a share for a period of 5 years.

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In its most basic form, backdating can range from the blatant falsification of a document to take advantage of a lower stock price to allowing executives to select a grant date during a specified period, for example during the 30 days after the grant is approved by the board or committee.

Although these practices involve different types of conduct, both create problems because the date when the exercise price is set is not the same as the date on which the option is awarded.

The practice of “backdating” stock option grants has recently captured the attention of regulators, prosecutors, the plaintiffs’ bar, shareholders and the media.

The SEC’s Enforcement Division and the offices of the United States Attorney are investigating the option granting practices of dozens of companies and actions taken by their executives.

Here's a look at companies that have come under scrutiny for past stock-option grants and practices.