RIM Settles Stock Option Accounting Controversy By Paying $77 Million

Top execs at Research In Motion are a bit lighter in the wallet after paying out $77 million (CDN) to the Ontario Securities Commission to make a stock option accounting scandal that dates back to 1996 go away:

The bulk of the money, related to allegations involving the period 1996 to 2006, will be repaid to the company, renowned for the BlackBerry smart phone. Of the total, about $68-million will go to RIM and $8-million to the regulatory body.

The OSC’s allegations caught up not only to co-chief executives James Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, but also Douglas Fregin, who co-founded the communications company with Mr. Lazaridis in 1984. Also named were former RIM directors Douglas Wright, president emeritus of the University of Waterloo; Kendall Cork, a Toronto business consultant and former Noranda Inc. executive; James Estill, who runs a computer company in Guelph, Ont., and RIM executives Dennis Kavelman and Angelo Loberto.

“We are very pleased to put this behind us,” Mr. Balsillie said after the hearing, with Mr. Lazaridis at his side, adding that “mistakes were made” but new governance practices have since been put in place.

Strangely, the market doesn’t really seem to care about this. RIM stock was up slightly on NASDAQ as well as the TSX. I guess that frees up RIM in general to make and sell more BlackBerries, and Mr. Balsillie in particular to purchase an NHL team or something. But the Ontario Securities Comission is going to get new street cred respect for making RIM pay up like this.

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