updated 08:05 pm EST, Mon January 8, 2007
Legal experts on Apple
More legal experts have offered their views on whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs is actually free-and-clear of any wrongdoing in the company's stock options scandal, according to a report from Bloomberg, revealing that the executive isn't "out of the woods" yet. Apple conducted an internal investigation to discover details about some accounting "irregularities" in 2006, only to discover that 6,428 stock option grants were illegally backdated between 1997 and 2002 after spending 26,500 man-hours to search over 1 million electronic and paper documents. "The SEC and the Justice Department are not bound by the company's conclusions," said Jahan Raissi, a San Francisco-based attorney and former senior counsel in the SEC's enforcement division. "They have far more powerful tools to force people to talk to get information." Apple's independent investigation concluded that the company's chief knew about some of the grants and that he even chose some of the dates, but claimed that the executive did not understand the accounting implications of those actions.
"[Apple] admitted [Steve Jobs] knew what was going on and picked the dates," said William Portanova, a white collar criminal defense attorney in Sacramento and former U.S. prosecutor in California. "Nobody is out of the woods until the SEC and DOJ say they are out of the woods." SEC spokesman John Nester said that internal company reviews do not preclude an SEC investigation, noting that "it's a tool that can expedite the resolution of a matter, but it's not a substitute." Kevin Ryan -- a U.S. Attorney in San Francisco -- said a company's internal investigation can prove useful during an investigation, but said "we exercise our own due diligence in determining whether federal criminal prosecution is warranted."