Among the year’s most prominent general counsel scandals was that of Nancy Heinen, the former top lawyer of Apple Inc., whom the SEC charged in April with fraudulent backdating practices. By all accounts, Heinen was a trusted member of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ inner circle–she was GC of his software company Next Inc. until Apple bought it in 1997, and reportedly the two were good friends. Heinen resigned from Apple in May 2006.
The SEC alleges Heinen improperly backdated stock options granted in 2001 to herself and Apple’s executive team, including Jobs. She also allegedly falsified minutes of a fictitious board meeting approving the options grants.
In September reports surfaced claiming the SEC subpoenaed Jobs to give a deposition in the case against Heinen, raising questions about his role in and knowledge of the backdating practices.
“Right now Apple’s stock hasn’t really suffered from any of this, but I think a scandal involving Jobs and the possibility he might have to step down would be a very serious blow to the company,” says John Gamble, a partner in Fisher & Phillips’ Atlanta office.