Ex-McAfee counsel charged with fraud

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Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged McAfee’s former top lawyer with fraud for his role in a stock options backdating scheme at the anti-virus software group.

Kent Roberts, 50, stands accused of granting himself extra compensation by manipulating the grant dates of stock options awarded to himself and to other McAfee employees.

If found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

Mr Roberts’s lawyer could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The indictment marked the latest sign that federal prosecutors and the SEC are pressing forward quickly with their cases against individuals involved with stock options backdating.

Earlier this month, the former general counsel of Monster Worldwide, the online jobs site, pleaded guitly to separate backdating charges.

Federal authorities are probing options granting practices at dozens of other companies, including Apple and Broadcom.

In many cases, investigators may be running up against statutory deadlines which require prosecutors to bring securities fraud cases within five years. Much of the options backdating appears to have ceased after the SEC changed disclosure rules for options grants in 2002.

The progress on the cases against individuals stands in contrast to a growing logjam of corporate options cases. SEC commissioners have been unable to agree on how harshly to penalize companies involved in backdating.

The justice department said on Tuesday that Mr Roberts “fraudulently concealed and failed to disclose” changes to a 2000 options grant. The changes inflated the value of the grant by making it appear as if it was made on a date when the company’s share price was lower.

Prosecutors also accused Mr Roberts of making a false entry in the minutes from a 2002 board meeting. The minutes concerned an options grant to McAfee’s then-chief executive and chairman.

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