While this type of activity is not considered illegal in most nations, there is some question in some quarters as to its ethical implications.

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For that, the feds seek disgorgement of the ill-gotten gains (about $1.6 million), plus an order barring her from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

That's a big hit for Heinen who, at 50, presumably had lots of mileage left in her career.

Never mind that Anderson, in a press release, claimed to have informed Jobs of the accounting implications of backdating options in 2001.

Or that Jobs gave up his outstanding options, which were "underwater," in exchange for 5 million restricted shares in 2003.

At the end of the day, Jobs dodged a bullet because of 1) his value to Apple's shareholders, 2) his value to the U. economy, and 3) just plain luck that neither Apple's board nor the SEC found a smoking gun to force them to do something they didn't want to do.

Options backdating is a strategy in which options are granted to an investor based on a date when the value of those options was lower than the current share price.

In researching this post, I came across a number of recent reports on Henry Nicholas III, the once high-flying CEO and cofounder of Broadcom. While the story was enthralling, I didn't understand what any of it had to do with a federal investigation into stock option backdating.

The allegations of illicit sex, drugs, and rock and roll reminded me of the 60s ... Sure, Broadcom had to take a .2 billion charge to fix the accounting mess left by the company's former executives.

Anderson had already retired in 2004 so, except for giving up some money and his board seat, he got off relatively easy, compared to Heinen.