Apple stock option backdating scandal
That means the company is unlikely to face criminal charges, he said.
"There are two levels of sin (in backdating options): venial and mortal," he said.
More than 100 companies are undergoing internal investigations or having their records reviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Justice Department to determine whether they manipulated stock-option grant dates to fatten their executives' potential payouts.
Options give holders the right to buy company stock at a set price, usually the price on the date the grant was made.
Apple also said Wednesday it plans to turn over the results of its investigation to the SEC and reiterated that it expects to restate its financial statements to account for the stock-option expenses.
"Fifteen instances suggest an intentional pattern," said Greg Taxin, CEO of Glass Lewis & Co., an investment advisory research firm.
"He fell on his sword," said James Cox, a professor of securities law at Duke University in Durham, N. John Coffee, director of Columbia University's Center on Corporate Governance, said Apple's backdating appears to fall into the less-serious category of using backdated options to attract and retain employees, compared with cases in which executives manipulated options to give themselves large bonuses.While this will bolster some investor confidence, it's ultimately the law enforcement's and the SEC's judgment that matters the most.