Monster Exec Pleads Guilty to Backdating Charges

February 16, 2007 ( - A former senior vice president of Monster Worldwide Inc. pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud in federal court Thursday, admitting to illegally backdating stock options, according to the Associated Press.

Myron Olesnyckyj, 45, reaped $381,000 from the practice – which he agreed to pay back –   and faces a potential sentence of 25 years in prison and $5.2 million in fines for participating in the back dating scheme from 1996 to 2003.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday filed a civil complaint against Olesnyckyj for securities fraud in connection to backdating, the first against a Monster executive related to backdating.

Olesnyckyj – who was ousted in November 2006 as the stock options scandal unraveled – was hired at the firm as general counsel in 1994, and when the company when public in 1996, he and others settled on an agreement to backdate annual companywide stock options grants and purposely excluded them from the financial records (See Corporate Carnage Continues in Stock Options Scandal with Monster Firing ).

Prosecutors said that new employees were promised they would be given options at the lowest price within the first 30 days following their first day and that Olesnyckyj hid this practice from auditors.

In December 2006, the company announced that it would restate its earnings by $219.9 million to account for the backdated stock options and reported that it made more than $500,000 in inappropriate options payments to founder Andrew McKelvey (See Monster Inc. Earnings Dive $217.9M From Options Backdating ).

The company said that McKelvey resigned from his post in October after refusing to comment on the company’s stock options practices during an internal investigation, according to the AP.