MN Requests Separate Investigation of UnitedHealth Stock Option Grants

June 9, 2006 ( - Instead of continuing in a lawsuit with other shareholders against UnitedHealth Group, Inc., Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch wrote a letter to the US District Court in Minneapolis asking if the state could withdraw from the suit in order to conduct a separate state investigation into the company's stock-option granting practices.

Business Insurance reports that, in the letter, Hatch said the state desired to appear in this case as an “amicus curiae,” or friend of the court.

The Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are investigating the stock option grants of companies to determine whether the firms may have defrauded investors by deliberately backdating option grants to coincide with low stock prices (See Stock Option Probe Biggest Since Abusive Fund Trading Cases ).

UnitedHealth is facing a number of shareholder class-action suits as a result of the stock option probe (See Public Pension Funds Sue UnitedHealth over Stock Option Grants  and UnitedHealth Sued Again Over Option Dating Allegations ). 

Last month the company announced that it may restate results over several years that could reduce past earnings by as much as $286 million (See UnitedHealth Under Fire for Stock Options ).