Steve Jobs attempted to strike a deal with Palm to prevent the rival handset maker hiring Apple employees, according to Bloomberg.
The Palm discussion occurred after the company hired Jon Rubenstein, a longtime Apple exec now credited with the smartphone strategy that resulted in the Palm Pre.
"We must do whatever we can to stop this," Jobs said in the communications, reported by Bloomberg.
The news agency says former Palm CEO Ed Colligan labelled Job's offer, apparently made two years ago, as "not only wrong, it is likely illegal".
Colligan's response, obtained by Bloomberg via a leaked email, does not contain the specifics of Jobs's proposal, but such an agreement may have violated antitrust regulations.