NY jury convicts Monster Worldwide’s former chief operating officer of stock option fraud

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Former Monster COO convicted of stock option fraud

NEW YORK — The former president and chief operating officer of Monster Worldwide has been convicted in New York of wrongfully backdating millions of dollars’ worth of employee stock option grants.

A jury on Tuesday found James Treacy of Glen Rock, N.J., guilty of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, filing false reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, making false statements to auditors and falsifying books and records.

Prosecutors say the backdated option grants caused the company to understate expenses by $339 million from 1997 to 2005.

They say Treacy, 51, received more than a million options himself, some of which were improperly set to dates when the company’s stock traded at a lower price. He was alleged to have gained more than $24 million.

Stock option backdating isn’t necessarily illegal as long as the stock options are properly recorded on the company’s books. But if the accounting of the perks is bungled, it can exaggerate corporate profits and improperly lower taxes.

Tracy faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 25.

Monster, which operates job Web site Monster.com, provides online recruitment services to businesses, government agencies, educational institutions and consumers.

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