Apple's share options "irregularity" problem continues to grow day-by-day.

The company isn't alone - as many as 2,000 US companies may have been implicated. It's thought that many senior company executives across the US have been profiting from the practice, in which share options are retrospectively granted at low prices just before the stock values rise.

It's an easy solution for corporate reward, as granting options (until the passing of the US Sarbanes-Oxley reforms in 2002) didn't cost companies money. They are now written down as expenses.

Apple did not start to expense stock options until 2004, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) insisted that all firms should charge options against company profits.

"Because stock options are now accounted for as an expense, companies who secretly backdated grants will have been overstating their profits in recent years and may have to pay higher taxes in future years," writes The Independent.

Because Apple at one point did not have an independent compensation committee, Apple's board of directors - including Apple CEO Steve Jobs - may have been implicated in the granting of dodgy stock.

Shareholders now are concerned that Jobs - who faces similar concerns at Pixar - may have been implicated in the options debacle. This could see him called to answer questions at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US regulator.

Jobs has been a frequent advocate for granting stock options to Apple's management. After a flurry of stock sales by Apple executives in 2002, Jobs said: "A major part of Apple's senior management compensation is based on stock options. It's great to see some members of our management team get rewarded for their incredibly hard work by selling a bit of their stock."

Some firms implicated in the emerging US board room scandal have seen senior executives resign, or face criminal charges. The scandal is particularly affecting technology companies, who fought against the rule change that generated the scandal in the first place.

In 2004, RSA Security's CEO Art Coviello told a House Financial Services subcommittee: "The mandatory expensing of all employee stock options is without any clear or generally accepted accounting rationale. It will destroy broad-based plans as we know them and the productivity, innovation and economic growth they generate."

In 2004, Apple made its case for stock options in a SEC filing. At that time the company said: "In order for the Company to continue to develop, market and sell innovative products and technologies, it must attract, retain and reward highly talented and creative employees, including executive officers."