Myron F. Olesnyckyj, former general counsel of careers and recruitment company Monster Worldwide, has settled civil charges and pleaded guilty to criminal charges regarding backdated stock options, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Olesnyckyj, who neither admitted nor denied the SEC allegations, agreed to a permanent officer-and-director bar and to be permanently enjoined from violations of the relevant securities laws. In the parallel criminal action, he pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, agreed to pay $381,000, and will cooperate with prosecutors.
Olesnyckyj has not yet been sentenced for the criminal counts, the commission noted. According to the Associated Press, he faces as much as 25 years in prison.
Last month, the SEC charged Olesnyckyj with securities fraud for his role in backdating stock options granted to thousands of Monster officers, directors, and employees, including himself.
The complaint alleged that from 1997 through 2003, Olesnyckyj secretly backdated stock options grants to coincide with the dates of low closing prices for the company’s stock, resulting in grants of in-the-money options to numerous individuals.
The SEC asserted that Olesnyckyj, or others acting at his direction, prepared backdated documentation for the compensation committee using the improper grant date, then caused Monster to misrepresent in regulatory filings that all stock options were granted at fair market value on the date of the award. The complaint also accused Olesnyckyj of misleading Monster’s outside auditors by providing similarly misleading documentation.
By backdating and improperly accounting for options, alleged the SEC, Monster granted undisclosed compensation to its employees, failed to recognize compensation expenses, and overstated its net income by $340 million from 1997 through 2005.