Video Game Executive Found Guilt of Options Backdating

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A former video game executive, Ryan Brant, has been found guilty of illegally backdating executive options grants. The outcome of this case is being closely watched by Disney, Apple, and Steve Jobs. Ryan Brant, who is the founder and chief executive of Take-Two Interactive Software, recently agreed to pay $6.3 million to resolve a civil case related to the matter. He also agreed to pay an additional $1 million to settle criminal charges brought by the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). Perhaps more importantly, Brant is now barred from carrying a top executive position at a publicly-traded company.

The backdated options occurred between the years of 1997 and 2003, according to federal investigators. “I am deeply sorry for my role in the inappropriate manner Take-Two granted incentive stock options,” Brant said in a statement. “I accept responsibility for my actions, and apologize to the company’s shareholders.” Take-Two is the publisher of the ultra-popular game series, Grand Theft Auto.

The Take-Two development closely follows a new discovery in an ongoing probe involving Steve Jobs, now the focal point of a major backdating investigation involving both the SEC and the Office of the US Attorney General. This week, fresh information pointed to the alleged backdating of grants to Pixar executive John Lasseter, a situation that involved the approval of Steve Jobs and automatically implicates current Pixar parent Disney.

Meanwhile, Brant is the first chief executive to face charges related to the backdating of executive options grants, a precedent that could complicate the defense offered by Jobs. Backdating itself is not illegal, though failing to properly disclose the practice is. This case could serve as a warning for other executives who may have engaged in similar practices. It highlights the importance of transparency and good corporate governance in the business world.

The issue of backdating executive options grants has been a controversial topic for many years, with many executives being accused of engaging in the practice. Backdating involves retroactively setting the grant date of an option to a date when the stock price was lower, which makes the option more valuable. This practice is not illegal, but it becomes illegal if it is not properly disclosed to shareholders.

The SEC has been cracking down on backdating in recent years, and this case is a clear indication that they will not tolerate such practices. The SEC has stated that it will continue to investigate and prosecute cases of backdating, and it is likely that more executives will be held accountable for their actions.

The case of Ryan Brant is also significant because it could have implications for the defense offered by Steve Jobs in the ongoing backdating investigation. Jobs has been accused of approving backdated options grants to himself and other executives, but he has denied any wrongdoing. The defense offered by Jobs is that he was not aware of the backdating and that the grants were approved by the board of directors.

However, the case of Ryan Brant could complicate this defense. Brant was a CEO who approved backdated options grants, and he has been held accountable for his actions. This could make it more difficult for Jobs to argue that he was not aware of the backdating, especially if other executives are found guilty of engaging in similar practices.

In conclusion, the case of Ryan Brant is a significant development in the ongoing backdating investigation. It highlights the importance of transparency and good corporate governance in the business world. It also serves as a warning to other executives who may have engaged in similar practices. The SEC has made it clear that it will not tolerate backdating, and executives who engage in such practices will be held accountable for their actions.