What are backdating scandals

29-Jun-2019 17:46

This is a practice that was once viewed as little more than financial sharp practice but in 2006 exploded into major scandal for some of Silicon Valley's biggest names.

It is a phenomenon that will never rock the UK markets as it has the US ones.

Take the beloved and equally reviled Martha Stewart.

In the 1990s, Stewart was revered for her homemaking skills, her cookbooks and TV shows, and the empire built around the Martha Stewart brand.

A stock option granted, for example, on the day you join the company allows you the right to buy that share at that day's price, but not until a fixed period – say a year – has elapsed.

These rules say that options can't be granted when executives have access to unpublished price-sensitive information.

US technology employees may live on their salaries, but whether they get truly rich or not depends on their share of the company.

While lucky early employees might get actual shares, most workers will depend on stock options to cash in on the tech boom.

Publicly traded companies must disclose any grants of options to directors as soon as possible.

In fully listed companies that includes people discharging managerial responsibility.

This disclosure must come no later than the end of the following trading day, effectively preventing any back-dating of option grants.

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