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Prosecutors Prioritize Stock Options Cases

This summer, federal prosecutors and regulators fired two big opening volleys in their crackdown against suspiciously timed grants of stock options to top executives, bringing criminal and civil charges against former officials of two technology companies, one on each coast. Faced with a mountain of material and potential violations, the authorities are having to marshal their resources to concentrate on high-priority and more egregious cases of fraud involving the award of stock options. Just over 2,000 public companies, or 29 percent of those in the United States that give stock options to executives, have timing issues, according to ERIK LIE, an associate professor of finance at the University of Iowa, and Randall Heron, an Indiana University associate finance professor. But not all the backdating of options was illegal, and in some cases the evidence is insufficient for the government to make a case. The ASSOCIATED PRESS story also appeared in the CONTRA COSTA TIMES and SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS in California, NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, INTERACTIVE INVESTOR, KANSAS CITY STAR, ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, CBS NEWS, BUSINESS WEEK, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, and several other publications.

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