Quick Take: Taking Bullets for Jobs

Government and big business are alike in many ways. For instance, they both like to have a patsy available for light cleaning and bullet-taking. Look no further than the expected SEC lawsuit against former executives at Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . It will reportedly name Nancy R. Heinen, Apple's former general counsel, and CFO Fred D. Anderson, on whom Apple's board pinned the blame awhile back.

This is disingenuous and shameful at the least, because the trail of slime leads all the way up to CEO Steve Jobs.

Despite the fact that Jobs participated in options backdating (he was "aware that favorable grant dates had been selected ..."), the compliant Apple board -- with a lapdog of Al Gore's stature -- declared that Jobs wasn't at fault. Oh sure, he'd blessed the backdating, but didn't know the accounting implications, they said. (A third-grader can understand the math, but Jobs can't?) They also claimed that Jobs didn't personally benefit, but a sharp analysis by Graef Crystal at Bloomberg blows that whopper out of the water.

It's too bad the SEC didn't go after the bigger fish. But this is America, after all, and Jobs does hire people who make pretty shiny things. Why blame him if he and his cronies took more from shareholders than they deserved? Isn't taking advantage of shareholders what the capital markets are for?

Update: The SEC's press release on the lawsuit is here, and it ain't pretty. The full complaint is here (opens a .pdf file).

Update 2: Ex-CFO Fred Anderson apparently isn't taking all the bullets from Jobs without a last-gasp revelation. A statement sent to The Wall Street Journal claims, among other things, that Jobs had been specifically informed of the accounting implications.

Comments? Bring them here.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.


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