Apple's recent filing of papers with US regulators regarding the options backdating accounting crisis, and its acceptance of a $84 million charge as a result should help close the door on the situation, but some questions remain.
The company investigated 42,000 stock-option grants made on 259 dates between 1996 to 2003. It found that 6,428 grants made on 42 dates were incorrectly dated. The enquiry was conducted by law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver and Hedges and was directed by Al Gore, Jerome York and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
One option grant was made to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2001. The paperwork for the award was put together by Apple lawyer, Wendy Howell, who lost her job late last year as a result of the company's options probe, reports California legal law news website, Cal Law.
Howell, it appears, was responsible for writing up the paperwork for the backdated award, which Jobs never actually exploited. The report even alleges she created supporting papers for the award.
A lawyer for Apple's former chief financial officer, Fred Anderson, last week said his client: "Did not play any day-to-day role in the granting, reporting, and accounting of stock options and he was not involved in any knowing manipulation of the process."
Another seeming victim of Apple's internal crisis is the company's former general counsel, Nany Heinen. A report talks about her career and notes her as a "top lawyer known for her integrity".
Today, Heinen is a potential suspect, witness or convenient scapegoat in the options debacle.
There's more potential challenge to Apple's defence in the scandal. A report in USA Today alleges that one of the directors who was in charge of the company's own internal investigation had a conflict of interest.
Director Jerome York ran reseller MicroWarehouse during the period in which the investigation focused. The reseller accounted for $600 million worth of Apple sales in the period between 2000-2003, the report alleges.
York also sat on the company's compensation committee, the report observes. Apple says he didn't take part in the probe when it came to looking at that period, but USA Today claims the conflicted interests should have disqualified him from involvement in the enquiry.
The big concern for Wall Street revolves around Apple's spiritual leader, CEO Steve Jobs.
Apple's own internal investigation exonerates Jobs of any complicity in the debacle, saying that he: "Was aware or recommended the selection of some favourable grant dates," but adding, "he did not receive or financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications."
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes that if US regulators are not content with Apple's findings and choose to force an investigation, and if Jobs were to be implicated in that, then his loss would cut as much as 20 per cent off Apple's share price.
Apple management is unlikely to let that happen, and for most in the US the loss of Jobs would be a national disaster. Former SEC commissioner Joseph Grundfest last week said: "Steve Jobs is a national treasure, and Apple has to do everything it can to keep him actively engaged."
The Cal Law report warns that US regulators investigation of the situation may gather steam in the next few weeks. That investigation is led by assistant US attorney Christopher Steskal and his supervisor, Eumi Choi. If they choose to file charges then that action could take place within the next two months.