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Additionally, companies can use backdating to produce greater executive incomes without having to report higher expenses to their shareholders, which can lower company earnings and/or cause the company to fall short of earnings predictions and public expectations.Corporations, however, have defended the practice of stock option backdating with their legal right to issue options that are already in the money as they see fit, as well as the frequent occurrence in which a lengthy approval process is required.21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Shares in Ocwen Financial Corporation ("Ocwen" or the "Company") (NYSE: OCN) have plunged approximately 20%-its largest intraday drop since October 2008-after New York's Department of Financial Services accused the company of improperly option grants to periods of lower share prices (Yermack, 1997; Aboody and Kasznik, 2000; Chauvin and Shenoy, 2001; Lie, 2005; Heron and Lie, 2007; and Narayanan and Seyhun, 2006), or decreasing earnings to suppress share price when options are granted (Baker, Collins, and Reitenga, 2003; Cheng and Warfield, 2005; Bergstresser and Philippon, 2006; Cornett, Marcus, and Tehranian, 2008; Mc Anally, Srivastava, and Weaver, 2008).
Backdating is dating any document by a date earlier than the one on which the document was originally drawn up.
Under most circumstances, backdating is seen as fraudulent and illegal, although there are some situations in which backdating can be used in a legal and beneficial way, such as backdating a claim for a past period.
The SEC’s opinions regarding backdating and fraud were primarily due to the various tax rules that apply when issuing “in the money” stock options vs.
the much different – and more financially beneficial – tax rules that apply when issuing “at the money” or "out of the money" stock options.
Backdating allows executives to choose a past date when the market price was particularly low, thereby inflating the value of the options.