LOS ANGELES The U.S. Justice Department has
decided not to file charges against Apple Inc (AAPL.O), leader
Steve Jobs and other current or former executives in a probe of
backdated employee stock options, lawyers for the people
targeted in the investigation said on Wednesday.
Apple, the fast-growing consumer electronics company, is
one of more than 200 mostly high-tech companies that have been
investigated for irregularities over their accounting for stock
options awarded to employees over the past decade or so.
Three of the attorneys in the case told Reuters that the
Justice Department had decided to drop its criminal inquiry.
A spokesman for Apple declined to comment.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had launched an
investigation for backdating options grants to Jobs, the
company's co-founder and chief executive. Apple's own probe
found no wrongdoing by Jobs or current management.
The SEC later cleared the company after it cooperated with
the investigation, but the agency sued former Apple Chief
Financial Officer Fred Anderson and former General Counsel
Nancy Heinen last year.
"There was never any basis to bring charges against Nancy,
so it is no surprise that the government reached this
conclusion," Cristina Arguedas, Heinen's lawyer, said of the
DOJ's decision. "We were always confident that after a full and
fair review of the facts there could be no other outcome."
The SEC case relies on testimony from a lower-ranking
former Apple lawyer, Wendy Howell, who testified she was asked
by Heinen to falsify minutes of meetings of Apple's board of
directors that never took place.
Thomas Carlucci, Howell's lawyer, said that she would not
be charged either by the DOJ.
The DOJ's decision was first reported by the Wall Street
Journal, which cited people familiar with the case.
The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco, which was
handling the case, did not immediately return a call seeking
(Reporting by Gina Keating in Los Angeles, with additional
reporting by Eric Auchard and Duncan Martell in San Francisco
and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore, editing by Will Waterman,