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accounting, stock options, backdating, corruption, greed, executive compensation, corporate scandals, accounting fraud, corporate negligence, business ethics, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, investor risk
In the post-Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOx) world, there has been an unprecedented crackdown on fraudulent activity occurring within corporate America. During recent years, many companies have granted stock options to their executives and employees as part of compensation packages. While the issuance of stock options as a component of compensation is considered to be a legal practice, corruption has taken this corporate resource to unlawful heights. Recently, numerous corporations have been in the news for potentially backdating stock options. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to distinguish between legal and illegal aspects of backdating stock options, and to examine the ethics of such corporate activity.