Briefing – The Stock Option Backdating “Witch Hunt” – What Do I Need to Worry About?

October 26, 2006

Over the last year or so there has been an increasing number of corporate investigations into alleged stock option backdating activities led primarily by the SEC, the DOJ and the FBI. As these investigations continue to unfold the number of nuance accounting issues and the legal complexities for public companies and their officers and directors have grown significantly. To address these many issues, we will be hosting a discussion on recent developments in this area and focusing on the various “hot button” issues of concern to companies and individuals facing the inevitable question – Do we have anything to worry about?

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, McGriff, Siebels and Williams, Inc. and Grant Thornton LLP held a breakfast briefing October 26, 2006 to speak about the ever-expanding civil, criminal and regulatory issues arising from the recent allegations of stock option backdating. Topics include:

  • What is stock option backdating?
  • What are the tax and accounting implications?
  • How do we know whether we have a problem or not?
  • Should we voluntarily initiate an internal corporate investigation?
  • What questions can we expect to receive from our outside accountants?
  • What is the role of the Audit Committee vs. the Special Committee?
  • What should we do when the SEC / DOJ / FBI calls?
  • What level of involvement has led to findings of individual culpability?
  • Are our officers and directors at risk?
  • Will they be covered by our company’s D&O insurance policies?
  • How to avoid potential coverage issues?
  • What is happening with D&O insurance renewals?
  • What about the SEC’s new executive compensation disclosure? What will we have to disclose next year?

Featured presenters include:

Jim Moloney, Partner. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (moderator)
[email protected] – Jim is a partner in Gibson Dunn’s Orange County office, where he is a member of the firm’s Corporate Transactions Practice Group focusing primarily on securities, mergers and acquisitions, friendly and hostile tender offers, proxy contests, going-private transactions, and general corporate matters. Jim was with the Securities & Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. for six years before joining Gibson Dunn in June 2000. He served his last three years at the Commission as Special Counsel in the Office of Mergers & Acquisitions in the Division of Corporation Finance. In addition to reviewing merger transactions, Mr. Moloney was the principal draftsman of Regulation M-A, a comprehensive set of rules relating to takeovers and shareholder communications, that was adopted by the Commission in October 1999.

Nick Hanna, Partner. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
[email protected] – Nick is a partner of Gibson Dunn’s Orange County office, where he is a member of the Litigation Department and the Business Crimes and Investigations Practice Group. Nick ‘s practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations, False Claims Act (“whistleblower”) suits, and complex business litigation. He has represented individuals and corporations for alleged violations of healthcare, defense contracting, and environmental laws, as well as defending cases involving money laundering, bribery, mail and wire fraud, false statements, and government corruption. Mr. Hanna also has litigated successfully a broad range of civil matters, including cases involving consumer class actions, unfair business practices, misappropriation of trade secrets, internet privacy, and employment benefits.

Paul Sparks, Executive Vice President. McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Inc.
[email protected] – Paul is Executive Vice President of McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Inc. He is the National Practice Leader for McGriff’s Financial Services Division. The Financial Services Division specializes in executive liability solutions, insurance alternatives for financially distressed institutions and risk financing/financial engineering techniques. Prior to joining McGriff in 1998, Paul worked for a large national broker specializing in executive liability products and services. Previous to becoming a broker Paul led Chubb’s Executive Protection and Risk Management practices based out of Atlanta, Georgia, where he was responsible for underwriting and management of both practices.

John Tanner, Senior Vice President. McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Inc.
[email protected] – John is Senior Vice President & Claims Counsel in the Financial Services Division of McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Inc. John received his J.D., magna cum laude, in 1997 from Georgia State University College of Law, and his B.A., cum laude, in 1993 from Maryville College. John joined McGriff from the Atlanta office of Alston & Bird, LLP where he gained extensive experience in securities litigation and professional liability matters including defense of public companies and directors and officers in shareholder class action litigation, defense of law firms sued by former clients or third parties (such as trustees in bankruptcy), and participation on the legal counsel investigation team in connection with Neal Batson’s service as Examiner in the Enron bankruptcy. He also has significant prior experience litigating claims of insurer bad faith and issuing formal insurance coverage opinions.

Rick Wagner, Grant Thornton LLP
[email protected] – Rick is the West Region Practice Leader of the Compensation and Benefits Consulting practice for Grant Thornton LLP and works out of its Irvine office. Rick got his BS in Finance, magna cum laude, from the University of Southern California in 1986 and his J.D. from the University of California, Davis, in 1991. Rick advises clients on a variety of issues surrounding compensation and benefits including the design, implementation, tax, and accounting implications of equity based compensation plans.