Backdating employee stock options
More likely, though, he's been saved by his special status.
Jobs is Michael Jordan in the 1990s, Citigroup in the 1980s, Walter Cronkite in the 1960s.
But Apple makes clear that Jobs was directly involved in some instances of backdating.
The investigation "found that CEO Steve Jobs was aware or recommended the selection of some favorable grant dates." The committee hastens to add that Jobs "did not receive or financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications." In other words, he didn't recommend backdating his own option grants.
And he never cashed in those options because they were replaced in 2003 by a grant of restricted stock.
CEOs at other companies have been forced to resign for such activities. His job may be saved by the fact that he did not directly profit.
Still, given that (a) backdating helps make earnings look better than they are; and (b) Jobs is a huge shareholder of Apple (10.12 million shares, as of last April), how could he not benefit from this behavior? Jobs recommended some backdating dates for other employees.
It turns out that Jobs did, indeed, receive backdated options—just not at his own direction. 18, 2001, when the stock stood at .01, the company gave Jobs a monster 7.5-million-share options grant dated Oct. By doing so, the company gave Jobs million in compensation for which it did not account properly. It also pretended the options grant was approved at a special board meeting, when no such meeting occurred. He received a massive grant that was approved at a phantom board meeting, though he didn't know about the phony meeting.
He's a revered Hall of Famer who doesn't get whistled for fouls that send other pros to the bench. He is too popular—among investors, journalists, employees, analysts, and in the culture at large—for anyone to recommend that he be deposed. The scandals at Enron, World Com, Adelphia, and everywhere else ended the era of the rock-star CEO.
But Jobs is the lone exception, as revered today as he ever was.