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Recording the exercise as having occurred on an earlier date when the stock price was lower would minimize the executive's income tax liability, but constitutes tax fraud.
For its part, the company must report failure to comply on its annual proxy statement.
An analysis of the likelihood that Mc Guire's options could have been as felicitously times as they were showed that the odds were millions to one against it. The state, however, has not taken a position on the merits of the claims.
On April 19, 2006, Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch asked to intervene in a shareholder lawsuit against United Health Group (Brandin v. Hatch said that the importance of the company to the state's health care system meant that if there were substantial and unjustified costs, Minnesotans could be harmed.
Despite all the editorials, all the accounting rule changes, and all the new laws, nothing much seems to change except the particular manner in which so many executives get overpaid.
Chances are this particular practice will now go away, but another one will surface all too soon.
No matter how much particular practices may be decried, the consensus seems to remain that corporate success is attributable to a very few people at the top, with everyone else pretty much being replaceable parts.
Fifty-two companies currently under criminal investigation. Moreover, the company avoids having to expense the options as current compensation, thus increasing earnings in the near term.More telling, only 0.9% of the scheduled grants showed a pattern of fortuitous timing, strong proof that the pattern in unscheduled grants could not be the result of random variation.Some of the companies that get entangled in this may have been making honest mistakes, recording dates that were off by a few days because of inadequate administrative procedures.The pattern was somewhat more common in technology companies, smaller companies, companies granting options to more executives and directors, and companies with higher stock price volatility.Volatility is especially significant: 29% of companies with high volatility appear to have manipulated grant dates, compared to 13% of those with low volatility.New rules under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have reduced the practice to 10% of the companies granting options.