Thank you so much for spending time today on this important topic.I thought I'd talk a little about where we are from an Enforcement perspective.In order to lock in a profit on day one of an options grant, some executives simply backdate (set the date to an earlier time than the actual grant date) the exercise price of the options to a date when the stock was trading at a lower level. In this article, we'll explore what options backdating is and what it means for companies and their investors. Most businesses or executives avoid options backdating; executives who receive stock options as part of their compensation, are given an exercise price that is equivalent to the closing stock price on the date the options grant is issued.This means they must wait for the stock to appreciate before making any money.In 1972, a new revision (APB 25) in accounting rules resulted in the ability of any company to avoid having to report executive incomes as an expense to their shareholders if the income resulted from an issuance of “at the money” stock options.
Most of the research to date has focused on supply side factors (e.g., accounting treatment, securities regulations, and corporate taxation), while there has been little discussion of demand side factors. Taking a very different tack, Comverse's former CFO, David Kreinberg, last week became the first top level executive to settle actions brought by the SEC and the US Attorneys' Office since options backdating came into the media spotlight last Spring.In settling with the SEC, the former Comverse CFO consented to, among other sanctions, a permanent injunction against violation of the securities laws, a permanent bar against serving as a corporate officer or director, and payment of .4 million in disgorgement and pre-judgment interest.This paper contrasts the post-tax returns of backdated at-the-money options to currently-dated in-the-money options (with the same strike price as the backdated options) and demonstrates that a Canadian executive can earn a significantly larger after-tax return from backdated options compared to a US executive. We tie this to the favorable Canadian tax treatment of executive options relative to their treatment in the United States.