Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Continuing its tough stance against corporate attorneys, the SEC filed fraud charges against a Bay Area attorney for her role in illegally backdating stock option grants. The Commission charged Lisa C. Berry with routinely backdating option grants from 1997 to 2003, first as General Counsel of KLA-Tencor Corporation and then as General Counsel of Juniper Networks, Inc. The Commission alleges that Berry's misconduct caused the two companies to conceal hundreds of millions of dollars in stock option compensation expenses relating to undisclosed in-the-money options provided to company executives and employees.
The Commission also announced today that it has filed a settled enforcement action against Juniper, an information technology company based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Juniper has consented to a permanent injunction against violations of the antifraud and other provisions of the federal securities laws. KLA, a San Jose-based semiconductor equipment company, previously settled charges brought by the Commission.
"The Commission's action today confirms that attorneys are no less bound by the securities laws than other public company executives," said Linda Chatman Thomsen, the SEC's Director of Enforcement. "At both KLA and Juniper, Ms. Berry was in a unique position to insure that the companies accurately disclosed their stock option expenses; instead, she facilitated their fraud on investors."