A publicly traded company was alleged to have backdated thousands of employee stock option grants involving hundreds of millions of company shares. The alleged backdating involved setting of stock option prices at a date prior to the date that the option was actually issued, resulting in options that were immediately “in-the-money.” Company executives faced fraud charges stemming from these allegations.
Intensity performed quantitative analyses evaluating the statistical probability of whether option grants were the result of backdating or other factors. In other words, we assessed whether the performance of option grant timing was the result of hindsight or good foresight. The project involved statistical analyses including advanced simulations and a collection of statistically valid tests.
As part of our work, we evaluated economics and business practices associated with stock option grants and reviewed financial and economic literature relating to the decision making process in granting options. We analyzed various drivers of patterns in granting options, including market conditions, option vesting schedules, option cancellation practices, and the distribution of market volatility over the grant period to inform on the likelihood of occurrences of backdating.