SAN FRANCISCO – LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced today the formation of a local stock options backdating task force that is charged with investigating allegations of companies and individuals in Northern California who retroactively changed the grant dates of stock options with the intent to defraud. The task force is investigating several Bay Area companies to determine the extent of the intent to mislead or defraud shareholders in the dating and awarding of stock option grants. The task force will include members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in the Northern District of California.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “We will investigate whether individuals and companies may have deliberately backdated stock options with the intent to defraud. It is integral to the public trust in our financial markets that books and records are maintained honestly, and that the true financial condition of public companies is disclosed accurately. Falsification or backdating of financial documents may call the integrity of companies’ financial statements into question, can constitute fraud on the company, shareholders, and the market, and may give rise to tax violations. We will evaluate the facts of each case, and we will bring criminal charges when appropriate.”
The task force is currently composed of four members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and four supervisory Special Agents of the FBI, along with several special agents assigned throughout the Bay Area. The following individuals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be members of the task force:
• First Assistant U.S. Attorney Eumi Choi – Chair of the task force
• Assistant U.S. attorney Haywood Gilliam, Chief of the Securities Fraud Section
• Assistant U.S. attorney Michael Wang, Chief of the White Collar Section
• Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Steskal
• FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Arthur Balizan
• FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Johnson
• FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tamara Neiman
• FBI Supervisory Special Agent Barbara J. Sullivan
• Several FBI Special Agents throughout the Bay Area
Acting Special Agent in Charge Arthur Balizan said, “The FBI, working in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other concerned entities, will diligently investigate any allegation in which a publicly traded company has illegally backdated stock options. Although not all of the allegations will rise to the level of criminal prosecution, the FBI has a duty to the investing public to examine whether companies, both in the past and present, are violating securities laws. Illegally backdating options give the company insiders an unfair advantage over the investing public and contributes to shareholders’ lack of trust in those executives who are running these companies.”
As one of only two U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country with a stand alone Securities Fraud Section, U.S. Attorney Ryan noted that FBI investigators and U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutors have a practiced expertise in the investigation of complex white collar cases.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]