It seems that the scandal related to Apple backdating stock options has gotten a little more serious. According to the Financial Times, in 2001 Steve Jobs was granted 7.5 million stock options without the proper authorization of Apple's board of directors, and it now appears that someone falsified board meeting records to make it look as if Jobs had received authorization for the grant. The Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing whether to take action against Apple and/or any of the individuals involved, though whether Jobs himself might potentially be in any legal hot water is unclear. Jobs returned all granted options to Apple before exercising them, which perhaps explains why the company issued a statement in October saying that an internal investigation had cleared him of any wrongdoing (the company did force a former CFO from its board). Whether the SEC decides to go after Apple, Jobs or anyone else at the company remains to be seen, but the FT notes that plenty of other CEOs have resigned in the wake of similar backdating scandals. You could argue that given how well Apple's stock has done over the past year that even shareholders who feel cheated by what happened would rather own stock in a company helmed by Jobs than one without him, but rules are rules and if turns out that anyone at Apple broke the law it's unlikely that the Feds will go easy on them.

[Thanks, nightryder21 and todd]

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