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Stock options, typically used as incentive pay, allow employees to buy stock in the future at current prices. and other companies also backdated the options to a previously lower price to give employees a little extra when they cashed in the options.
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The SEC elevates its inquiry to a formal investigation.
A former executive, Nancy Tullos, agrees to plead guilty to obstruction of justice for instructing a subordinate to delete a damaging e-mail, which prosecutors alleged had provided evidence of stock manipulation by senior executives, including Nicholas and co-founder Henry Samueli.
In a 21-count indictment, Nicholas and Ruehle are accused of improperly backdating millions of Broadcom stock options for five years to reward employees.
Nicholas faces a second indictment alleging "using and distributing controlled substances," including cocaine and methamphetamine.
You can count Bill Ruehle, the Irvine high-tech company's chief financial officer during the period at issue, as one of the victims of the game.
You should also know that Ruehle, 70, escaped with his reputation intact, and has lived to tell the whole story his way.Ruehle was indicted in June 2008 on charges he defrauded Broadcom and its shareholders by failing to account properly for millions in stock option grants to company employees and executives.Samueli pleads guilty to lying to federal regulators about backdating in a deal that would let him pay million and be sentenced to probation instead of prison, but the judge rejects the deal as too lenient.Samueli, who also owns the Anaheim Ducks, is suspended by the National Hockey League.Almost from its inception, the federal government's options backdating case against executives of Broadcom Corp.reeked of cheap melodrama more than it gleamed with truth-seeking about corporate accounting and corporate pay.