Updated from 1:40 p.m.
U.S. securities regulators charged
former top lawyer, Myron Olesnyckj, with securities fraud in a stock options backdating scheme at the online jobs company.
Securities and Exchange Commission
sued Olesnyckj in federal court, alleging he oversaw a six-year-long scheme to "secretly backdate stock options granted to thousands of Monster officers, directors and employees." The SEC complaint was filed Thursday in New York Southern District Court in Manhattan.
Later Thursday, Olesnyckyj pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud before District Judge Laura Taylor Swain,
Regulators say Olesnyckj was involved with changing option grant dates to periods when the stock was at a low, helping to enhance the value of the stock options. In the process, the company failed to recognize compensation expenses, overstating its net income by $340 million from 1997 through 2005.
Olesnyckj also attempted to conceal the backdating activity by giving auditors the wrong grant dates for the option awards, the complaint charges.
The SEC is seeking repayment of illegal proceeds and a fine. Olesnyckj is cooperating with regulators as they continue the investigation, according to a report in
The Wall Street Journal
In December, the New York online job search site said it was restating its financials to reflect a $340 million charge for incorrect stock option accounting.
In November, Monster fired Olesnyckyj as its general counsel amid a review of options practices.
Monster CEO Andrew McKelvey quit as chief executive in early October and gave up his chairmanship later the same month as the company's inquiry was picking up. Monster has said that McKelvey reimbursed the company $533,000 for certain items and that the company is seeking further reimbursement on other items.
Shares rose 45 cents Thursday to $54.08.