Stock option backdating – a fraud not far removed from tax avoidance

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The Guardian has reported the latest person to reason in the corporate scandal sweeping across America where it has been discovered that maybe hundreds of companies have been backdating stock options for their staff so that they could cash them in at greater worth, usually tax free. As they reported:

Bruce Karatz, 61, quit [on Monday] after 34 years as chief executive of KB Home, where he earned $155m (£81.5m) last year, making him America's second highest paid corporate boss. An investigation by the company established that he improperly set the trigger dates for his own share options, enabling him to reap huge rewards. He has agreed to pay back $13m.

This scandal shows that greed is alive and well and living in the corporate world. It's curious that the Guardian notes that the standard excuse offered for backdating options has been 'everyone else is doing it'. People say that of tax avoidance in general. That also usually relies on dodgy documents and just a hint of artificiality to work. Wise people do neither, not if they want to stay the right side of the law.

Mr Karatz and those like him are no loss to the corporate world. I now hope he is pursued for his misdemeanours. Examples need to be made of such people.