Apple CEO Steve Jobs appears unlikely to face crimingal charges in the US government probe of stock options backdating at Apple.

A Mercury News report examines the available evidence surrounding one 2001 grant that implicates Jobs in the activity of backdating options grants in order to inflate their value when liquidised.

The examination, it is claimed, turned up scant evidence that would support criminal charges. There is: "No evidence he directed the backdating of his own grant or covered it up afterward, based on a review of regulatory filings and interviews with lawyers intimately familiar with the grant who asked not to be identified," the report said.

The 7.5 million options grant was instead an attempt made in good faith to reward Jobs for turning Apple around, but was badly executed, the report explains.

Apple's own internal investigations have found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Jobs. He has also been exonerated in a similar investigation at Pixar.

If he avoids prosecution for the 2001 grant, there's "a good chance" he'll avoid any criminal charges, the report adds.

However, the case is complicated on account of the company falsifying minutes of a board meeting at which the compensation package was declared. US regulators are considering charges against former Apple General Counsel Nancy Heinen and former chief financial officer, Fred Anderson, as a result.

US regulators are expected to decide how to proceed with the case in the next few months, the report explains.