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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
Charges brought over Apple shares
Apple computer
An internal audit last year cleared current bosses of misconduct
Civil charges have been brought against a former manager at tech giant Apple over her role in the alleged fraudulent award of share options to bosses.

Nancy Heinen, formerly Apple's senior lawyer, has been accused of misconduct in the way share options were issued to chief executive Steve Jobs and others.

But US regulators have settled their case against former finance chief Fred Anderson, who will pay $3.5m in fines.

Mr Anderson has admitted no liability while Ms Heinen denies the charges.

In another new development, Mr Anderson said he had warned Mr Jobs about potential accounting problems related to the executive awards.

Controversial practice

The prosecution relates to Apple's backdating of share options, a practice in which options are retroactively handed out to coincide with periods when company share values are low.

When corporate officers enrich themselves at the expense of shareholders, the commission will hold the responsible individuals accountable
Linda Chatman Thomsen, SEC

The practice is not illegal - but it is highly controversial, since it could potentially allow company bosses to make even more money when shares rise and they cash in their options.

Ms Heinen is accused of not disclosing the practice in the company's accounts, and altering its records to conceal the alleged fraud.

She has vowed to fight the charges.

"Every action Nancy took was fully understood and authorised by Apple's board of directors," her attorney, Miles Ehrlich, said.

Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive
Steve Jobs received 7.5 million share options in 2001

Announcing its settlement with Mr Anderson, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said he failed to take note of Ms Heinen's attempts to backdate options.

It also claimed he failed to make sure financial statements correctly recorded the award of more than 11 million backdated share options in 2001.

Mr Anderson has agreed to pay fines and penalties totalling $3.5m but has not admitted any wrongdoing.

"When corporate officers enrich themselves at the expense of a company's shareholders, the commission will hold the responsible individuals accountable," said Linda Chatman Thomsen, director of the SEC's enforcement division.

Internal review

An internal review by Apple last year cleared Mr Jobs and other executives of any misconduct in the matter.

But the audit raised "serious concerns" about the actions of two former employees, now believed to be Ms Heinen and Mr Anderson.

The SEC said the alleged lapse in accounting procedures resulted in Apple understating the amount it paid out in executive remuneration by $40m.

Responding to the SEC proceedings, Apple said no charges had been brought against current employees and said the regulator had taken note of the firm's "swift co-operation" in the matter.

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