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25-Apr-2018 15:58

Our Office of Economic Analysis then analyzed data and refined the areas of concern.And in the Enforcement Division, we gathered information and data regarding specific cases to bring the issues into focus, culminating in our enforcement actions over the last several years. I am old enough to remember employee stock options as an anti-takeover device.In addition to the enforcement efforts, others at the Commission have taken two other major steps to address this issue.First, there are the recently adopted rules relating to executive compensation disclosure which specifically address options.For example, at the money options received more favorable accounting treatment — they did not need to be expensed.They also generally received more favorable tax treatment.At that time, in the eighties and nineties, stock options, often in the money, were granted to employees in the hope that a highly-motivated employee pool would put the company in a better position to resist in hostile takeover battles.Over time, shareholders objected to the fact that the options were granted in the money and eventually many companies developed stock option plans in which grants could only be made at the money — that is, at the closing price of the stock on the day of the grant.

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In settling with the SEC, the former Comverse CFO consented to, among other sanctions, a permanent injunction against violation of the securities laws, a permanent bar against serving as a corporate officer or director, and payment of .4 million in disgorgement and pre-judgment interest.With respect to both, there are pending parallel criminal actions as well.As most of you know, the Comverse criminal case has had a certain amount of drama surrounding former CEO Kobi Alexander, who was first a fugitive from justice, and later was located after he took up residence in Namibia, where he is presently fighting extradition to the United States.At the same time, in a related criminal action brought by the US Attorney, Kreinberg pled guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, and he now faces up to 15 years in jail, mandatory restitution and a possible criminal fine.

Despite all the recent media attention, Brocade and Comverse are not the SEC's first stock options cases.

In the past few years, we brought two other cases involving option issues in the context of allegations relating to broader financial frauds — one in 2003 involving Peregrine and one in 2004 involving Symbol Technologies.