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Steve Jobs: 'I wanted respect, not backdated options'

SEC deposition outed

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Steve Jobs says he just wanted to feel appreciated when he asked Apple's board of directors for some additional stock options back in 2001 — but then things got all probey with US regulators.

Forbes has managed to get its mitts on the Apple CEO's deposition with the US Securities and Exchange Commission conducted in the wake of Apple's backdating scandal.

Jobs has always maintained he was unaware of the accounting fraud involved with improper backdating of his options, and no government legal action was taken against the CEO and Apple. But the resulting investigation saw Apple's former financial chief Fred Anderson and ex-general counsel Nancy Heinen forced to settle with the SEC for a few million dollars apiece without admitting wrongdoing. There were also several derivative lawsuits filed by shareholders which Apple settled out of court for $14m.

In the deposition, Jobs told SEC lawyers during a March 2008 interview that he initially approached Apple's board of directors in 2001 about a stock option grant out of perceived lack of respect.

"It wasn't so much about the money," Forbes reports Jobs told the SEC. "Everybody likes to be recognized by his peers...I felt that the board was really doing the same with me."

Apple's chief-of-chiefs has only been paid a token $1 per year salary since his return to the company. Combined with the eroded value of his stock options in the dot-com bust, Jobs said he wasn't feeling properly compensated for his work. He was also feeling pretty stung that Apple's board never approached him with a stock option reward without his prompting.

The SEC claimed Heinen fraudulently cooked up options grants by misrepresenting the true dates the grants were awarded to times when the price was at a historic low.

Backdating itself isn't illegal, but not telling the SEC or stockholders about it is considered securities fraud.

Heinen has denied the SEC's accusations — and Anderson, who was essentially charged for being asleep at the wheel while the backdating occurred, has claimed Jobs was informed about the implications of backdating.

According to the SEC interview, Jobs claimed he doesn't know much about accounting or backdating shenanigans and didn't know the practice was illegal. Jobs' options were also subsequently canceled when the fraud was brought to light and resulted in no financial gain to the oh-so-neglected CEO. ®

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