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When federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission filed the first charge from the burgeoning options-timing investigations against former Brocade Communications CEO Gregory Reyes and human resources VP Stephanie Jensen on July 20, they labeled the conduct as “securities fraud.” This is probably the most serious moniker that can be applied to corporate misconduct, calling forth notions of Ponzi schemes that prey on naive investors and accounting violations designed to make rotten companies look healthy. The charge has been the central feature in the recent convictions of former CEOs at WorldCom and Enron, so it is an easy conclusion to draw: CEO deception at a public company must mean securities fraud.

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