Pre-Order your new iMac now from MacMall (ships Oct 23) & save hundreds in tax: Apple Price Guides updated Oct 20th (exclusive coupons)
 


Thursday, September 20, 2007, 07:40 am PT (10:40 am ET)

Steve Jobs subpoenaed by SEC for deposition - report

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to give a deposition in a backdating lawsuit against the company's former general counsel, Bloomberg is reporting.

The subpoena isn't part of an SEC investigation, people familiar with the matter say, but rather seeks Jobs's testimony in the Commission's lawsuit against Nancy Heinen, who was sued April 24 for allegedly backdating stock-option grants to Jobs and other members of Apple's executive team.

Heinen is being targeted primarily for her involvement in a December 2001 grant of 7.5 million stock options to Jobs that was backdated to October. The SEC is seeking to prove that Heinen's actions deceived investors because the true cost of the options were hidden by shifting the grant date from Dec. 18, when the stock was $21.01 a share, to Oct. 19, when it stood at $18.30.

The former top Apple legal aid is also charged with self-dealing on a grant to herself, as well as the fabrication of meeting minutes to show the Apple Board of Directors approved the aforementioned grant to Jobs on Oct. 19, 2001, when in fact no such meeting had taken place. In total, Heinen and former Apple chief financial officer Fred Anderson have been accused by the SEC of backdating more than $20 million in stock options in 2001 for Jobs, themselves and other executives.

According to a document filed in a California court last month, Heinen's lawyers are seeking to depose 45 people, including the recipients of the grants. She has denied the charges against her.

Anderson, who like Heinen resigned from his post at Apple ahead of the formal SEC crackdown, settled with the Commission in April. As part of the deal, he agreed to a fine of $150,000 and to repay about $3.5 million in disgorgement of profit, without admitting or denying any wrongdoing.

In a statement that followed his settlement with the SEC, Anderson largely shifted the blame for his involvement in a backdated 2001 Executive Team grant back to Jobs. He claimed that Jobs came to him in late January of 2001 and informed him that he had received the Board's approval for the massive grant, when in fact no approval had been granted.

Nevertheless, Jobs appears to have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the SEC. This month's subpoena, however, signifies the second time he's been called upon for questioning by federal investigators regarding his company's backdating scandal. In January, he arrived at the San Francisco federal building for an interview with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission flanked by lawyers, though the subject of the meeting was never made public.

At issue for authorities at the time were over 6,400 additional company stock option grants which were similarly misdated between the years of 1997 and 2002. After cooperating with the SEC, Apple said in December that it would take an $84 million charge for the bulk of the fortuitously granted options, but maintained that its own internal investigation into the matter turned up no wrongdoing by Jobs or any other member of its current management team.

In April, the SEC issued an official statement that effectively wiped the slate clean for Apple as an organization and its problematic stock option grants, saying that the company's eagerness to make amends left little reason to consider punishment.

"Apple's cooperation consisted of, among other things, prompt self-reporting, an independent internal investigation, the sharing of the results of that investigation with the government, and the implementation of new controls designed to prevent the recurrence of fraudulent conduct," the release said.

Following that release, it was believed that the SEC's only remaining beef was with Heinen.