Backdating of options may be broader than suspected

The options backdating scandal brought down senior executives at companies all over America and even caused problems for firms as large as Apple (AAPL). The Wall Street Journal has exclusively obtained an unpublished survey that shows the problem is more widespread than previously believed. The paper writes that "The study identified 141 companies with such advantageous options-granting practices that the researchers concluded they were highly likely to have been involved in backdating. Ninety-two of those companies never were publicly linked to investigations or announced earnings restatements related to backdating." The research was done by University of Houston's C.T. Bauer College of Business.

The results could lead to another wave of investigations and perhaps indictments by the SEC and Justice Department. If the last set of investigations is any indication, a new series could go on for months and be played out in the newspapers. Companies being investigated may have to pay millions of dollars each in legal fees and boards of directors will probably have to hire outside counsel to help in investigations of senior executives. It will be "deja vue all over again," as Yogi Berra once said.