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US share probe keeps growing

Broadcom, Monster dragged in...

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Fund managers in the US are asking 1,500 companies if they are likely to get dragged into the ever-growing investigation into backdating of share options. Yesterday saw job site monster.com and Broadcom admit they were facing Federal investigation.

The Council of Institutional Investors, whose members run $3 trillion in investments, asked 1,500 firms if they were under investigation or were running their own investigations into share options. The Council said share options should be granted at the same time each year unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Monster said it was running its own investigation and has also received a subpoena from US Attorney in Manhattan. Chip maker Broadcom said it had received informal enquiries from the SEC about granting of share options.

Data center provider Equinix Inc is also facing an informal probe. Accountancy software maker Intuit said on Friday that it too was facing an informal SEC inquiry.

Calpers - California's public employees pension fund - has written to some two dozen companies demanding they investigate and publicly disclose what they discover. Calpers says directors should carry out a full audit of executive pay and compensation.

More from AP here and from the Seattle Post Intelligencer here.

The scandal came to light after research by Eric Lie, professor at the University of Iowa. He found backdating of options was more common before August 2002 when new SEC reporting regulations came into effect. More from him here.

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