But Apple makes clear that Jobs was directly involved in some instances of backdating.The investigation "found that CEO Steve Jobs was aware or recommended the selection of some favorable grant dates." The committee hastens to add that Jobs "did not receive or financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications." In other words, he didn't recommend backdating his own option grants.Still, given that (a) backdating helps make earnings look better than they are; and (b) Jobs is a huge shareholder of Apple (10.12 million shares, as of last April), how could he not benefit from this behavior? Jobs recommended some backdating dates for other employees.

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have led to the resignation of dozens of top executives and investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors. 29, Apple discussed the report and accounted for the impact of the earnings restatements in its 10-Q.

But the options scandal has never touched a more exciting company than Apple or a more thrilling executive than Jobs. In June 2006, a special committee of Apple outside directors, chaired by former Vice President Al Gore, hired its own attorneys to investigate options backdating at the company. It turns out there were literally thousands of examples of backdating at Apple—6,428 options grants on 42 dates over a period of several years.

After accounting for forfeitures, Apple was forced to recognize stock-based compensation expense of $105 million on a pretax basis that it hadn't done so previously.

Apple has essentially blamed former chief financial officer Fred Anderson and former general counsel and board secretary Nancy Heinen, both of whom are no longer with the company.

And he never cashed in those options because they were replaced in 2003 by a grant of restricted stock.

CEOs at other companies have been forced to resign for such activities. His job may be saved by the fact that he did not directly profit.

More likely, though, he's been saved by his special status.

Jobs is Michael Jordan in the 1990s, Citigroup in the 1980s, Walter Cronkite in the 1960s.

He's a revered Hall of Famer who doesn't get whistled for fouls that send other pros to the bench. He is too popular—among investors, journalists, employees, analysts, and in the culture at large—for anyone to recommend that he be deposed. The scandals at Enron, World Com, Adelphia, and everywhere else ended the era of the rock-star CEO.