Federal Probe Into Stock Options Expands

The Securities and Exchange Commission is expandings its investigation into the granting of stock options at over 30 publicly traded firms today, as a growing firms are being put under scrutiny for the timing of their stock option grants to executives. Yesterday, Camarillo-based Semtech announced that it has received a letter from the SEC requesting stock options grants since January 1, 1997, and Aliso Viejo-based Quest Software said that its board of directors has formed a special committee to investigate its historical stock option grant practices. Other companies facing SEC scrutiny for stock option accounting include Juniper Networks, F5 Networks, Openwave Systems, CNET, and many others. The options probe has already claimed its first Southern California victim, Camarillo-based Vitesse Semiconductor, which fired its CEO, CFO, and EVP recently over stock options grants.