Apple clears current executives in stock option probe

An investigation into stock option irregularities by Apple has cleared its current executive team of any misconduct, although CEO Steve Jobs was found to be aware or recommended favorable grant dates, the company said in its regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Based on the findings of the independent investigation, Apple will take an additional non-cash charge of $84 million, after tax. This charge includes $4 million, $7 million and 10 million in fiscal years 2006, 2005 and 2004 respectively.

While Jobs was aware of the grants, the probe concluded that he did not financially benefit from any of the grants. The special committee set up to investigate the irregularities raised concerns regarding the actions of two former officers in connection with the accounting, recording and reporting of stock option grants.

While the probe did not name the officers, Fred Anderson, former chief financial officer resigned from the board in October as the company announced the internal investigation’s end. He said then he believed it was in Apple’s best interest for him to resign. Nancy Heinen, former senior vice president and general counsel left the company, quietly and without comment, in May. At the time, a company spokesman confirmed she had left, but couldn’t say why.

“The board of directors is confident that the company has corrected the problems that led to the restatement, and it has complete confidence in Steve Jobs and the senior management team,” said Al Gore, chair of the special committee, and Jerome York, chair of Apple’s Audit and Finance Committee, in a joint statement.

Apple began its investigation into the stock option grants in June 2006.

Apple stock is trading up 3.77 percent or $3.05 at $83.92.

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