SEC subpoenas Jobs in Apple backdating case, report says

He will be questioned in the case against the company's former general counsel

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Apple CEO Steve Jobs to give a deposition in the agency's stock-backdating case against the company's former general counsel, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Jobs himself is not under investigation, sources told Bloomberg, but his testimony is wanted by the SEC for the lawsuit it filed against Nancy Heinen earlier this year. Heinen was the general counsel of the Cupertino, California, computer and consumer electronics maker until she left the company in May 2006, shortly before the SEC announced it was looking into option backdating at Apple.

Heinen was sued by the SEC in April for allegedly granting illegal backdated stock options to Jobs and other executives, then altering company records to cover the deals. Jobs was issued a 7.5 million share grant in 2001. She is the only Apple executive still pursued by the SEC; also in April, former Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson agreed to pay the SEC US$3.5 million to close his case.

Previously, an internal Apple investigation said Jobs knew of the backdating but didn't personally benefit. Anderson, however, claimed Jobs told him to backdate the options, according to a statement released by Anderson's attorney at the April hearing.

In a joint filing late last month to a San Francisco federal court, the two sides noted differences in the number of depositions each wanted to take. Heinen's attorneys, for instance, said they needed to depose 45 people for their case, while the government's lawyers wanted to limit the number to 12. Although the SEC did not name names in the filing, it said it would seek depositions "of people who dealt with Heinen in the process of granting options to Apple's senior executives, including certain members of Apple's board of directors."

The SEC and Heinen also cannot agree on a schedule. The SEC wants the trial to start in September 2008, but Heinen's attorneys argued for a March 2, 2009, trial date.

Apple first broached backdating in late June 2006, when it said an internal probe had found irregularities in options granted between 1997 and 2001. In December, it again cleared Jobs and others still on the management team and took an US$84 million charge as it restated earlier earnings.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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