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Regrets Only

Anti-virus software maker McAfee has detected a worm in its system. The company announced today that it would restate a decade's worth of earnings to account for giving executives backdated stock options. The restatements could wipe out as much as $150 million of the company's profits. McAfee also revealed that it fired president Kevin Weiss and that CEO George Samenuk retired.

"I regret that some of the stock-option problems identified by the special committee occurred on my watch," said Samenuk, referring to an internal investigation. That's nice, but his statement implies that he unwittingly overlooked the back-dating activities. That seems unlikely for a leader who took over McAfee following a previous financial scandal that led to criminal indictments for company executives. Call me cynical, but I'm guessing that every one of the 120 ongoing investigations into stock-option manipulation involves a fully-aware CEO.

John C. Maxwell wrote, "Ethics is never a business issue or a social issue or a political issue. It is always a personal issue." The only reason to backdate stock options is for personal gain. It's time for CEOs to stop apologizing as if they didn't know it was happening, or didn't realize that it was wrong.
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