Former Take-Two chairman and CEO Ryan Brant, who pleaded guilty to stock-option backdating in the SEC's formal investigation of the company's stock option practices, was sentenced to five years' probation.
Following up on the story, news service Bloomberg is reporting
that Brant, 35, avoided prison time by cooperating with investigators.
His sentencing in a New York court follows similar pleas
on the part of Take-Two accounting officer Patti Tay and general counsel Kenneth Selterman, who plead guilty to falsifying business records in the same investigation.
Following the company's own internal investigation finding "significant" backdating and other improprieties
, a formal SEC investigation saw Brant singled out
and forced to pay $7.3 million in “disgorgement, interest and penalties” at the New York State Supreme Court.
The investigation named Brant, who was Take-Two CEO until 2001 and left the company in 2004, as one of the figures who went on to "control and dominate the granting process" for options. The SEC found that Brant personally received ten grants of backdated options, worth nearly 2.1 million shares, which were later exercised for millions of dollars.
"This is a good reminder in an atmosphere where corporate heads are being sent to lengthy prison terms that, if you cooperate and you own up, you will be rewarded for your efforts," said former prosecutor Thomas Curran, a defense lawyer at Ganfer & Shore in New York to Bloomberg.
"I'm deeply sorry for my role as an executive in the company and my role in the options dating process," Brant told New York State Supreme Court Justice Brenda Soloff today in a Manhattan courtroom. Brant had faced up to four years in prison.