Former Apple General Counsel Nancy Heinen will pay $2.2 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claims she helped to...
Former Apple General Counsel Nancy Heinen will pay $2.2 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claims she helped to backdate stock options for Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs and other executives.
Heinen, who didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing, “caused Apple to fraudulently backdate two large options grants to senior executives” and “altered company records to conceal the fraud,” the SEC said in a statement Thursday.
Heinen agreed to a five-year bar from serving as an officer or director of any public company, the SEC said.
A February 2001 grant of 4.8 million options was made to six Apple executives, including Heinen, and a grant of 7.5 million options was made to Jobs in December 2001, the SEC said.
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Apple recorded $84 million in charges in 2006 for the two grants and others made from 1997 to 2002. The SEC sued Heinen, 51, in San Jose, Calif., federal court in April 2007.
“This settlement isn’t an admission — it’s a recognition that life is short,” said her lawyer, Miles Ehrlich of Ramsey & Ehrlich LLP in Berkeley, California.
“Rather than spend her energy fighting a lawsuit without end, she decided she’d rather devote her talents and time to making positive change in our society.”
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet declined to comment.
Heinen must return $1.6 million received from exercising backdated options, pay $400,000 in interest and a $200,000 fine, the SEC said.
She also is suspended from practicing as an attorney before the SEC for three years.
The penalty “certainly indicates we took these allegations very seriously,” Marc Fagel, SEC regional director in San Francisco, said. The SEC is seeking to close pending backdating cases with “several more to come,” he said.
Apple is facing shareholder lawsuits over backdating, which led the Cupertino, Calif.,-based maker of the iPhone and the iPod music and video player to record the charges to fix its accounting.
The sanction “seems to be in line with other settlements the SEC has done, both from a monetary standpoint and its impact” on the defendant, Ron Geffner, a former SEC attorney now at Sadis & Goldberg LLC in New York, said in an interview.
Heinen, who quit in May 2006, joined Apple as general counsel in 1997 after Jobs returned as chief executive.
“I cherish the great people I worked with at Apple, and I am proud of my contributions to its historic turnaround and current success,” Heinen said in an e-mailed statement.
Through backdating, companies retroactively change grant dates to increase a recipient’s gains.
At least 225 companies have disclosed internal or federal probes involving options irregularities, and more than 140 have said they will restate financial results.