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Does Steve owe Apple shareholders $85 million?

Scott McNulty

This stock options business is getting messy, folks. As you know, Apple has just recently completed an investigation into some fishy accounting practices in reference to some stock options that were handed out. Fred Anderson, former Apple CFO, has resigned from the board, and some of Apple's financial statements will need to be restated using information uncovered by the investigation.

The investigation states that Steve Jobs didn't benefit from any of this tomfoolery, nor did he know about it. Graef Crystal, writing for Bloomberg, doesn't think that is the whole story. Crystal took a look at Mr. Jobs exchange of certain stock options (i.e. Steve could have bought a set amount of Apple stock for a certain price) for actual shares and thinks that something funky is going on. I'm not going to explain the whole process, read Crystal's article for that, but the long and the short of it is that Crystal contends that Steve made out like a bandit thanks to some creative accounting. How much did Steve make? Potentially $85 million, that being the difference between the value of the stock Steve received, and the value of the stock that he would have received had he not exchanged his options for actual shares.

Crystal suggests that Steve should either give back the $85 million that he shouldn't have gotten in the first place, or refuse any future compensation from Apple.

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