The former general counsel of computer-virus fighter McAfee may be the sixth person charged with criminal offenses related to stock-options backdating, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning. The feds are reportedly preparing criminal charges against Kent Roberts, who was fired in May 2006 after the company revealed it had become aware of "one episode" that it described as "improper."
We won't know the details of the wrong-doing alleged until the indictment is handed down but as of right now Roberts reported conduct doesn't look too much different from that of, say, Apple's Steve Jobs.
Here's how the Journal describes the backdating episode:
Mr. Roberts received options dated April 14, 2000, to buy 20,000 shares at $19.75, a deep low in the company's stock price, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Shares rose to more than $25 that month.
Unfortunately for Roberts he is not a celebrity corporate executive. So he is being treated like a backdating miscreant and probably can't expect a former vice-president to write a report exonerating his conduct. What's more, since he seems not to have had his options converted into restricted stock awards, he may have actually exercised his options, sold the stock and therefore benefited from the backdating.
Actually, the main reason for Roberts' indictment is probably not because of anything he did. It's most likely an attempt to secure his cooperation against his superiors at McAfee. Since the backdating scandal came to public attention, McAfee has been especially hard hit, losing its Chairman and Chief Executive, George Samenuk, its president, Kevin Weiss. No doubt the feds look at these as the big fish and hope that an indictment will persuade Roberts to turn on his former bosses.
McAfee Ex-Counsel Likely To Face Options Charges [Wall Street Journal]