McAfee Hit with Options Scandal Upheaval

October 11, 2006 ( - Computer security firm McAfee, Inc. has fired President Kevin Weiss and has announced the retirement of Chairman and CEO George Samenuk as the fallout from the stock options backdating scandal continues.

company news release said that the firm’s board had named Dale Fuller as interim chief executive officer and president in the wake of Samenuk’s move to step down. Fuller joined the McAfee board in January 2006 and also served more than six years as chief executive officer and president of Borland Software Corporation.

“After almost six years at McAfee, I have retired as Chairman and CEO in the best interests of the company, its shareholders and employees,” said Samenuk in the statement. “I regret that some of the stock option problems identified by the Special Committee occurred on my watch.”

According to the company statement, directors also named Charles Robel as non-executive chairman. Robel joined the McAfee board in June 2006.

Options Investigation Results

The personnel actions followed the presentation to the board of the determinations by the special committee of independent directors about its investigation of McAfee’s stock option grant practices and related accounting issues.

The statement said that following the substantial completion of the special committee’s work, the company determined that it will need to restate historical financial statements to record additional non-cash charges for stock-based compensation expense over a ten year period. Based on that preliminary review, McAfee said in the statement that it now puts the amount of the restatement in the range of $100 million to $150 million.

The company said it will also be reviewing recent guidance released by the Office of the Chief Accountant of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and will determine, subject to final review by its independent auditors, the exact amount of such charges, the resulting tax and accounting impact, and which specific prior periods require restatement.

Finally, the company said the board has appointed a search subcommittee to immediately start a search to fill the permanent position of chief executive officer and intends to look at both internal and external candidates.

On May 30, McAfee fired its general counsel Kent Roberts after an internal review of the company’s employee stock options revealed an improper grant involving Roberts in 2000 (See Two US Pension Funds Sue Over Stock Options Backdating ).

In June, McAfee disclosed it received a document subpoena pursuant to a formal SEC investigation. On July 27, McAfee said findings from a review of its practices and accounting for stock-option grants will force it to restate prior results for at least one, and possibly several, past periods.

On August 18, the company said it received a grand jury subpoena from the  US attorney’s office for the Northern District of California relating to the termination of Roberts.