Yesterday federal prosecutors announced the indictment of Kent Roberts, McAfee's former general counsel, for backdating related charges. Today's Wall Street Journal points out that former McAfee CEO George Samenuk knew about some date gamesmanship with one of his stock options grant, as well. So why wasn't he indicted?
Larry Ribstein—who coined the "Apple Rule"—wonders if there isn't some invisible federal law enforcement rule protecting sitting corporate chief's from getting indicted so long as they don't actually have backdating ink-stains on their hands.
The bottom line seems to be that the Apple Rule protects an executive who lets an underling do the messy backdating, even if the executive knows about it. While Samenuk isn't a popular well-known executive like Jobs, we need to have an "indirect Apple rule" for executives whose indictment would set an unpleasant precedent for an executive who is protected by the "direct Apple rule."
In the end I expect that the biggest mess left by the backdating "scandal" will be a widespread perception of unfairness in the criminal justice system.
But clearly the "indirect Apple Rule" isn't quite as strong as the "direct Apple rule"--Samenuk was forced to resign last year when backdating at McAfee came to light.
SEC Details McAfee Plan For Options [$$] [Wall Street Journal]