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Backdating Pt. 2: Pixar's Mather Now in the Clear

Just days after the high-profile conviction of former Brocade CEO Greg Reyes completely imploded, we get word that a stock options backdating investigation into former Pixar CFO Ann Mather has been closed with no charges.

The Securities and Exchange Commission released a statement from here in its LA office that it doesn't plan to issue any enforcement action.

It's the latest blow for the feds, who earlier in the week had to absorb a stinging rebuke by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for prosecutorial misconduct in the criminal case of Reyes, who was found guilty, sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay a $15 million fine.

All of that was thrown out after the Appeals court agreed with Reyes' defense that the US Attorneys' Office kept exculpatory evidence from the jury.

Now the Mather matter is apparently going away too, even as she has always maintained her innocence over the past 16 months since the civil charges were first disclosed.

Pixar, like Brocade, was one of 200 companies colored by the backdating witch hunts.

Pixar was later acquired by Disney, which discovered Pixar's backdating discrepancies, but ultimately cleared then-CEO Steve Jobs, who himself was exhaustively investigated not merely for his role at Pixar, but also as CEO of Apple. That SEC investigation of Jobs' connection to backdating at Apple also yielded no charges, and to its credit, the agency lauded Jobs and Apple for its cooperation.

Still, Disney did have to spend $34 million for former Pixar workers to close discrepancies and pay associated taxes, though no wrongdoing was ever discovered.

Another high profile case bites the dust.

And it's a not-so-gentle reminder that just because it's high profile, doesn't automatically mean it has a high probability of being true. Maybe there's some fire underneath all this backdating smoke, but lots of smart people — some of whom even broke the rules — and lots of money still haven't helped the feds find the flames.

Meantime, for Mather, a member of Google's board of directors, it's going to be a very good weekend indeed.

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