Steve Jobs may have briefly distracted everyone from the options-backdating scandal at Apple by waving the iPhone around at MacWorld, but ValleyWag is offering what it calls a “reality check,” in which it lists five reasons it thinks that Mr. Jobs “is in jeopardy, more serious than has been acknowledged.” Others have made similar warnings, but ValleyWag’s comes one day after Bloomberg News reported that investigators from both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department questioned Mr. Jobs last week.
Although an internal Apple investigation appeared to clear Mr. Jobs of any wrongdoing in the backdating affair, it is “after all the S.E.C.’s view on his culpability that matters,” Nell Minow, an editor at the corporate-governance research firm Corporate Library, told Bloomberg.
Apple’s internal inquiry concluded that Mr. Jobs did not personally benefit from backdating.But ValleyWag calls that conclusion “bogus, and likely to insult investigators rather than assuage them.” Further, it said, the minutes of the board meeting at which Mr. Jobs was granted his options have been altered, which also spells trouble for him, even if he was not aware of it at the time, ValleyWag says. Investigators will want to know when he learned of it and what action, if any, he took in response.
Apple has “dragged its heels throughout this investigation,” ValleyWag contends. “And Steve Jobs has still expressed no contrition.” The longer this goes on, “the more exacting the likely penalty.”
On the other hand, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, the recent shakeup in the San Francisco office of the U.S. Attorney’s office may be good news for Apple and Mr. Jobs. The personnel shift is likely to cause some delay in backdating probes in the region, including the Apple investigation, sources told the newspaper. “All delay is good delay” for subjects of the inquiry, one defense lawyer said.
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