BlackBerry maker Research In Motion’s (RIMM) co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis could face record fines over a stock option accounting scandal dating back to 1996. The Ontario (Canada) Securities Commission is seeking a fine as high as $80 million ($100 million Canadian), the Globe and Mail reports.
It is understood that the OSC has pushed for Mr. Balsillie to pay the bulk of any penalty and relinquish his seat on RIM’s board of directors for a period of time. Although one person familiar with the talks said the parties are nearing a potential agreement, nothing has been finalised, including how much each executive may have to pay.
Reached last night at his home, Mr. Balsillie declined to comment on what he described as “rumours.” Neither Mr. Lazaridis nor his lawyer could be reached. A spokeswoman for the OSC said: “We can’t comment on enforcement cases.”
This shouldn’t affect RIM’s performance. Replacing Balsillie on RIM’s board, if necessary, could be a distraction. And the company’s co-CEOs could be personally distracted, too. But this shouldn’t affect RIM’s most important work, which is currently software and hardware developent.