Apple stock-options trial starts next May

The trial of a former Apple lawyer, charged with fraudulently backdating stock options last year, now looks likely to be delayed by two months and not to start until next May.

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The trial of a former Apple lawyer, charged with fraudulently backdating stock options last year, now looks likely to be delayed by two months and not to start until next May.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has accused former general counsel Nancy Heinen of helping to backdate stock options given to Apple's top officers, causing the company to under-report its expenses by almost US$40 million (£20 million).

The SEC settled a similar case with Apple's former chief financial officer, Fred Anderson. Anderson will now pay $3.5 million (£1.75 million) in penalties in response to SEC charges that he should have noticed Heinen's actions and corrected the company's financial statements.

Apple and CEO Steve Jobs were cleared in the case by the SEC and an independent investigation.

Heinen continues to deny the charges brought against her. Her trial was originally proposed to start in March 2009, but her lawyers recently filed papers proposing new deadlines.

Lawyers estimated at the start of the case that they would need to take 45 depositions and assured the court that "Ms. Heinen has made every effort to avoid needless litigation and to streamline the discovery process". Her lawyers now say they will only need 25 depositions to mount her defence.

The SEC has already taken five depositions including one each from Heinen, Fred Anderson and Steve Jobs, plus depositions from Philip Schimmel (former audit partner at KPMG) and Arthur Levinson (a member of Apple's board of directors).

Counsel representing four current and former Apple employees were recently notified by Heinen's lawyers that they will be subpoenaed for depositions. Those employees were not named in the legal filings.

Heinen has also served subpoenas for documents to KPMG; Apple's law firm, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati and several attorneys involved in advising Apple and reviewing SEC filings; eight financial institutions; and two educational institutions.

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