Securities Law

SEC Prepares Civil Charges Against Ex-GC

The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to file civil charges against a Silicon Valley lawyer for alleged schemes to backdate stock options at two companies.

Lisa Berry is expected to face civil charges for her work as general counsel at both KLA-Tencor Corp. and Juniper Networks Inc., sources briefed on the investigation told the Recorder. She would the first executive to be sued for such actions at more than one employer.

Sources told the Recorder that Berry left KLA eight years ago; the statute of limitations for financial penalties for securities fraud is five years. However, the limitations period does not bar injunctions for older conduct. The SEC may also be preparing to argue the statute doesn’t apply because her conduct was a single pattern of behavior.

Companies that backdate stock options to increase the value of an award to an employee are required to account for the change as an expense on their balance sheets. Lawyers for Berry did not comment.

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