The Securities and Exchange Commission is getting ready to file the first charges in its probe into Apple's stock-option backdating investigation, but it appears CEO Steve Jobs is safe, according to news reports.
The San Jose Mercury News reported Monday that Nancy Heinen, former general counsel at Apple, will be charged this week in connection with the investigation into the backdating of stock options for Jobs and other Apple executives. Apple has said some stock-option awards were backdated--a practice, legal if disclosed, in which a stock-option award is tied to a date when the price was low--but that the current management team did nothing wrong.
The implication, of course, being that former managers were to blame. Heinen and former Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson have previously been named in connection with the investigation, which appears to center on who approved a memo that conjured out of thin air a board meeting in which the option dates were approved. The Mercury News report contains differing accounts of whether Heinen approved those minutes or whether Wendy Howell, another former in-house lawyer, acted on her own.
Heinen's lawyers, quoted in the report, say she was acting on direction from the board and broke no laws. But the Merc also cites sources familiar with Heinen's case who say she has no evidence tying Jobs to the backdating, which would be a big relief for Apple investors.