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(iii) Because stock option grants at Mercury were for many years backdated from what was determined to be their actual grant date, the 2001 Form 10‑K that I signed as the new CFO overstated retained earnings by virtue of failing to take a charge for the in the money value imputed to these grants.I had no knowledge at the time, however, that the Company had improperly accounted for its stock option grants.Our several motions to dismiss the case filed in federal court have naturally proceeded under the radar over these last 2 years.The Judge in charge of the case has accepted many aspects of our motion while at the same time giving the SEC the opportunity to amend its complaint.KLA-Tencor was not fined under the settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed a civil lawsuit against the company in federal court in San Jose, Calif.The Silicon Valley company neither admitted nor denied the SEC's allegations but did agree to refrain from future violations of the securities laws.Instead, it assembled a story implicating certain executives as having hatched a secret plot to improve the price of their options for personal gain without any knowledge or involvement on the part of the Board.
In part to keep the SEC at bay, the Board of Directors of Mercury responded to the backdating allegations by appointing a special committee of the Board to investigate those allegations. The Special Committee became the vehicle by the Board deflected blame from itself to mitigate the response of the SEC.Many executives subjected to similar treatment chose to settle with the SEC often paying large fines in the process. Many important facts have been omitted by the SEC from its complaint.These include: (i) I was appointed as CFO by Mercury’s Board of Directors on November 1, 2001.Those of you familiar with the successful transformation of Mercury Interactive into the BTO Enterprise may also be aware that 2005 brought an investigation into the alleged backdating of employee stock options.Mercury was swept up along with hundreds of other technology firms that had granted its employees, management and directors options as incentives to drive the shareholder value of the company.
When I learned years later that the grant had been backdated, I wrote the Company a check for the amount of the benefit I had received.