Juniper Settles, SEC Charges
Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) announced today it's settled its options backdating case with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) , admitting no guilt and paying no fines in the process.
But the SEC did come down on former Juniper general counsel Lisa Berry for her part in backdating options at Juniper and, earlier, at KLA-Tencor Corp. The SEC filed civil-fraud charges against her in federal court in San Jose, Calif., according to The Wall Street Journal.
As for Juniper, its punishment amounted to a stern talking-to. "Juniper Networks has agreed to settle the charges by consenting to a permanent injunction against any future violations of the antifraud, reporting, books-and-records and internal control provisions of the federal securities laws," the company's press release states. (See Juniper Settles With SEC.)
In other words, Juniper promised not to break any laws in the future, a spokeswoman confirms.
Berry is the only Juniper executive to be charged by the SEC.
In 2006, as the case was unfolding, CEOs of other firms such as Comverse Inc. (Nasdaq: CNSI) and Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS) were being forced out due to stock options backdating. Speculation at the time was that Juniper's case could go to the top as well, to CEO Scott Kriens. (See Comverse CEO, CFO Resign, Cops Catch 'Most Wanted' Ex-CEO, Vitesse Execs Get the Axe, and Backdating Could Bite Juniper Execs.)
Juniper's internal investigation of options practices did turn up instances of backdating. Kriens himself received only two such options grants, both of which were canceled, unexercised, in 2001. Kriens hasn't exercised any options since 1998. (See Juniper Completes Probe.)
In March, Juniper restated past years' earnings to account for the proper value of backdated options. (See Juniper Catches Up, Writes Down.)
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading