Apple, Steve Jobs, Executives, Board, Sued For Securities Fraud - InformationWeek
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7/1/2008
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Apple, Steve Jobs, Executives, Board, Sued For Securities Fraud

The 105-page complaint seeks to recoup billions in lost share value after Apple's admission of executive compensation though the backdating of stock option grants.

Owen Pell, a partner at New York law firm White & Case, noted that this new complaint seemed fairly standard for securities litigation and did not appear to offer any new revelations beyond what has been publicly reported about Apple.

Among the challenges plaintiffs face in cases like this, said Pell, is establishing that their loss was directly related to Apple's acknowledgment of stock option issues. "Loss causation is not necessarily obvious on the face of the complaint in terms of the plaintiffs adequately pleading the link between the news of Apple's income restatement and the stock drop," he said. "Apple may be able to point readily to other news, either about the company or the market in general, that coincides with market movements."

Pell said that in cases like this it would not be unusual for a new suit to be placed on hold while pending motions in earlier filed actions were decided, or for Apple to move to dismiss the suit because the plaintiffs have not adequately pled issues like loss causation.

"I think the timing of the drop in the stock and the [Apple] announcements would speak for itself and demonstrate that there is causation," said Gary S. Graifman, a partner in the firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. and one of the plaintiff's attorneys.

In April 2007, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it filed -- and simultaneously settled -- charges against former Apple CFO Anderson, alleging that he should have noticed former Apple general counsel Heinen's alleged participation in Apple's fraudulent backdating of options.

Anderson, "without admitting or denying the allegations in the commission's complaint," agreed to an injunction on further securities law violations, to return $3.49 million arising from Apple options grants, and to pay a $150,000 penalty.

An effort by the New York City Employees Retirement System to hold Apple accountable for its handling of past stock options grants hasn't had much success. In May, U.S. District Court Jeremy Fogel told NYCERS that it could not sue Apple, having already said as much in 2007. The judge said that the pension fund hadn't suffered economic harm. The judge has reportedly advised NYCERS to join a derivative lawsuit against Apple over the issue of stock options that continues to work its way through the legal system.

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