Home Depot Inc. said that following an internal review it has uncovered about $200 million in unrecorded stock option expenses, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The unrecorded expenses extend back over the past 26 years, from 1981 to the present, and to previous management, the home improvement retailer said.The review found that management personnel, who are no longer with the company, routinely followed a practice of backdating -- reviewing closing prices for a previous period and selecting a date with a low stock price to increase the value of the options granted to certain employees. The board then approved the option grants.
The review, conducted with the help of outside counsel, also found that:
- In numerous instances, mostly before 2003, recipients of grants failed to report them to the SEC in a timely manner; or at all.
- Numerous option grants to rank-and-file employees were made "pursuant to delegations of authority that may not have been effective" under the laws of Delaware, where Home Depot is incorporated.
- There was no intentional wrongdoing by any current member of the company's management team, or its board of directors.
In a statement, Home Depot said that it did not consider the errors to have a material effect on the company's financial statements. The SEC and federal prosecutors are also conducting a review of the company’s stock option practices.
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