Ethics of stock option backdating
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Attorney’s Office considered that executives who benefitted from the backdated stock options voluntarily reimbursed the company, declined bonuses, and chose to give up certain stock option benefits, and that the company has committed to implement an enhanced ethics and compliance program.The filings failed to recognize the full expense to Costco associated with the issuance of these stock options. “This investigation, and the remedial steps taken by Costco, should send a message to other companies that it is critical to implement and maintain a robust compliance program.” In deciding not to pursue a criminal case, the United States Attorney’s Office considered multiple actions taken by Costco executives, including the fact that Costco self-reported the backdating to the SEC.
A series of multivariate show that measures we expect to be related to the effect of the scandal on the value of firms’ reputational capital and information risk are significantly related to changes in shareholders’ wealth.We find that the losses are attenuated when tainted management of less successful firms is more likely to be replaced.We also find that institutional investors reduce their holdings in firms accused of backdating, possibly due to higher monitoring costs, and that firms involved in the scandal are very likely (10% of the sample) to receive arguably fair takeover offers.For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily. Law360 (June 15, 2006, AM EDT) -- It is virtually impossible to pick up a newspaper these days and not see an article about the ever-growing list of companies being caught up in investigations concerning allegations of backdated stock options., we analyze the excess returns that occurred in short windows surrounding ten distinct news events related to backdating of stock option grants.
Our analysis focuses on 129 firms identified by the Wall Street Journal as implicated in the backdating scandal as of December 31, 2006.We independently identify 764 firm specific backdating-related news events taking place on 580 separate firm-dates.For the first news event (typically the announcement of an internal investigation by the firm), we find a statistically significant excess return of about -4.50% in the -20 to -2 window and -2.40% in the -1 to 1 window.The Chief Compliance Officer will work with the Controller and Chief Financial Officer in adopting written procedures to ensure that information is shared between internal departments responsible for Costco’s equity compensation program.Significantly, Costco has also committed to retain an independent auditor or law firm to review Costco's compliance and ethics program, to make recommendations as to any additional modifications to the program, and to conduct such an independent review at least once per year for a period of no less than three years.The magnitude of the implied wealth changes seems too large to be attributed to any reasonable estimate of direct out-of-pocket costs of the backdating scandal or to the resulting legal penalties disclosed to date (direct cost hypothesis).