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SEC prepares to move on options case

Federal securities regulators are getting ready to file charges in a case involving the backdating of stock options, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday.

According to CBS Marketwatch, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said the agency would make an announcement "very soon" but didn't name a company or provide a more specific date.

Prosecutors and the SEC are probing several companies, including Apple, whose executives received options in company stock at low prices just before big jumps in share prices.

"For some period of time now, it's been abundantly clear that these are not merely episodic instances," Cox told reporters at the SEC following a summit about protecting senior-citizen investors from fraud. The chairman said that "widespread problems" have existed, particularly during the 1990s.

Two lawsuits uncovered by AppleInsider this month combine to charge nearly two dozen current and former Apple executives and board members with colluding to backdate stock options in order to maximize the return on those options. The majority of the charges pertain to backdated stock grants during the 1990s.

Among those Apple executives charged in the suits, which were both filed in California courts, are Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, former chief financial officer Fred Anderson and executive vice president Tim Cook.