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Lie: 14 Percent Of Stock Options Backdated

The backdating affair has become the biggest corporate governance scandal in the United States since the collapse of Enron. Disturbingly, the practices still under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice appear to have been extremely widespread. This was not a case of a few bad apples at corporations such as Enron and WorldCom. In spite of the fact that so many companies are being investigated, others will escape. ERIK LIE, a professor at the University of Iowa, estimates that 14 percent of all grants to top U.S. executives between 1996 and 2005 were backdated or manipulated. The practice appears to have been particularly widespread in Silicon Valley, where stock options were awarded to many employees.

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