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US prosecutors open criminal probe of Apple stock option backdating

[JURIST] The US Attorney's office in San Francisco said Friday it is conducting a criminal probe into the option backdating practices of Apple Inc. [corporate website], and specifically an option grant given to CEO Steve Jobs in 2001 which was considered one of the largest option packages in corporate history, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Apple originally claimed the 7.5 million stock options were given to Jobs in October 2001 but last month, the company admitted the meeting in which the package was finalized did not take place until December that year. Apple has said that Jobs and the company's current executives were unaware of any backdating [Reuters report], but between the date of the fictious October meeting and the actual meeting in December, Jobs' stock appreciated $20 million dollars [CNN report].

The US Attorney's announcement comes less than two weeks after Apple completed an internal probe [JURIST report] into alleged stock option manipulation by its senior managers, including Jobs. The report purported to clear its executives of any wrong-doing and concluded that Jobs did not "financially benefit" [Miami Herald report] from stock options. The San Jose Mercury News has more.

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