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SEC files more backdating charges

Increases in backdating and insider-trading cases have kept Securities and Exchange Commission enforcers busier this year. The SEC has filed 14 percent more enforcement cases in its most recent fiscal year, according to Bloomberg. The commission brought 656 cases accusing companies of violating securities laws through September 30, nearly 100 more than in 2006. At the same time, however, the SEC seems to be letting more companies once suspected of backdating off the hook. As reported last week, the commission has actually been whittling down its list of possible backdating cases by giving companies no-action letters. Earlier this month, at least four companies revealed that the commission had dropped their informal inquiries into their past stock-option granting practices. Some of them, such as NVIDIA Corp., had restated their financials to make up for options whose grant and award dates didn't match. The SEC letters were received as much as a year after the probes were opened. Since University of Iowa professor ERIK LIE uncovered the issue in 2005, more than 200 companies have undertaken internal investigations into their historical stock option granting process or were the subject of a federal investigation. However, it's more likely today that fewer than 120 of such investigations are still ongoing. CFO Magazine, part of the Economist Group, is published in Boston.

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