The former chief financial officer of US movie maker Pixar Animation Studios
is facing a possible legal battle with securities regulators for alleged
mishandling of stock options, according to documents filed on Monday.
Ann Mather’s trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission was
disclosed by Google Inc, where she is a member of the internet search leader’s
board of directors, reports
Google said the SEC told Mather last week that the agency’s Los Angeles staff
will recommend a civil complaint be filed against her for alleged stock option
abuses that occurred during her five-year period overseeing Pixar’s books.
Pixar, which was acquired by Walt Disney Co. for $7.4 billion in 2006, is
among dozens of companies that once rigged stock options to give employees a
better chance to make money from the rewards.
The practice, known as ‘backdating,’ involves retroactively setting the value
of a stock option grant to the recipient’s advantage. If it’s not properly
disclosed, backdating options can exaggerate a company’s profits and result in
an underpayment of taxes.
Mather’s lawyer said there is no basis for legal action against her. ‘Ms.
Mather acted diligently and responsibly at all times in her position as CFO at
Pixar,’ said Timothy J. Coleman of the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.
SEC spokeswoman Michele Wein Layne declined to comment on the agency’s case
Google chairman Eric Schmidt said the company still supports Mather’s
re-election to its board at its annual meeting next week. ‘We have the utmost
confidence in Ann’s integrity as well as her abilities as a director,’ Schmidt
said in statement.
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