Former Broadcom executive pays $100,000 fine for backdating

A former Broadcom Corp. executive will pay $1.4 million to settle claims she participated in a scheme to backdate stock options at the chip maker, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions said Tuesday.

Nancy Tullos, 56, agreed to pay $1.3 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, but she won't turn over any money because the penalty will be canceled out by the loss of her exercisable Broadcom stock options, the SEC said. Tullos will pay a $100,000 fine.

Tullos did not acknowledge wrongdoing by agreeing to settle in the civil matter.

Tullos pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice earlier this year in a plea deal with federal prosecutors. She is expected to cooperate in an ongoing probe of Broadcom co-founders Henry T. Nicholas III and Henry Samueli, who have been called "unindicted potential co-conspirators" by prosecutors.

In January 2007, Irvine-based Broadcom reduced previous financial results by $2.2 billion to account for improperly backdated stock options.

The SEC said it was the largest correction resulting from scores of investigations into how corporations accounted for backdating option grants to make them more valuable.

Backdating involves manipulating the timing of options grants so they look as though they were made on days when the stock's value was lower. Doing that boosts recipients' windfall when they sell the stock.

Backdating isn't illegal if it's properly disclosed. But concealing the practice can hide the true costs a company has incurred, inflating its profits and possibly its stock price.

Documents filed with the SEC in January 2007 stated that an internal audit at Broadcom indicated that Nicholas had significant responsibility for improperly backdated stock options.

Nicholas' attorney, John W. Spiegel, has said his client did not knowingly engage in selecting grant dates after the fact and sought advice from appropriate persons regarding the process for option grants.

The audit also found that other executives, including Tullos, had substantial responsibility for the inappropriate grant practices.

Tullos left Broadcom in October 2004, a year after Nicholas departed.