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Ex-Apple officer implicates Jobs

He says they discussed accounting for options

Apple Inc.'s former finance chief says he cautioned chief executive Steve Jobs that the company may need to take a charge for stock options grants, an assertion that may undermine findings of an internal probe that exonerated Jobs.

Former chief financial officer Fred Anderson said he told Jobs in January 2001 that Apple would have to account for grants to key executives if they weren't dated to coincide with the board's approval for the awards, according to a statement issued yesterday by Anderson's lawyer, Jerome Roth.

The claims implicate Jobs in the company's stock options scandal and may increase the risk he will face further scrutiny by government lawyers looking into Apple's backdating, said Bill Shope, an analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. In December, Jobs was cleared by a special committee led by Apple board member and former US Vice President Al Gore, which said Jobs didn't "appreciate" the accounting implications.

"This is the first time any credible witness has claimed that Mr. Jobs was aware of the accounting implications of the backdating," Shope, based in New York, wrote in a report yesterday .

The statement by Anderson comes on the day that the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Anderson, 62, who has agreed to pay about $3.5 million in fines and penalties to settle, and former general counsel Nancy Heinen, 50, who says she will fight the allegations.

The commission accused Heinen of participating in fraudulent backdating and altering records to conceal the fraud. The charges were in connection with two options grants that caused the company to underreport its expenses by nearly $40 million, the SEC said.

Shares of Apple fell 27 cents to $93.24 in Nasdaq trading. They rose as much as 3.1 percent earlier after the Securities and Exchange Commission said it won't sanction Apple.

Sheila O'Callaghan, an SEC enforcement official overseeing the case, declined to comment on whether the regulator may later sue Jobs. Whether the US Attorney in San Francisco, which is investigating Apple's options practices, takes action against Jobs will depend on evidence to support Anderson's claims, Shope said. "The burden of proof will need to be very high."