AG office finds evidence to indict inside HP
September 13, 2006
Even after HP announced it would remove Patrica Dunn from the chairman's seat on its board of directors, the company got another signal the "Pretext-Gate" mess in the board room won't go away anytime soon. Although CEO Mark Hurd told employees that its subcontractor's blunder to probe personal phone records "has nothing to do with HP operations," California's attorney general has announced it has "sufficient evidence for indictments both outside and within HP" over the matter.
Hurd's statement will only turn out to be true if no indictments are filed against an HP employee. Dunn is not an employee; neither is chief counsel Larry Sosini, who told the board the hoax was within the bounds of the law.
Hurd is right in one aspect: this behavior has nothing to do with the operations of the part of HP still serving the homesteading 3000 customer. We should all keep in mind there are two HPs: the one that allowed this blunder to happen, without adequate oversight; and the one that still serves the 3000 community at the "worker bee" level.
The 3000 customer who plans to move to HP's other servers must take Hurd's statement to the press yesterday to heart: "These tactics have no place at HP." The California AG's office says it believes someone inside the company harbored and aided this hoax. Customers may have a different view than HP shareholders about Pretext-Gate. The market bid up HP's stock price to a five-year-high yesterday.
For the record, the legality of these tactics is still in play. If criminal or civil claims arise from this hoax, then fans of privacy rights can hope that "pretexting" will be labelled as illegal as ethics make the scam appear.
HP announced yesterday that chairman Patricia Dunn will vacate her non-exective chairman seat on the HP board of directors, reacting to CEO Mark Hurd will replace Dunn as chair in January, according to an HP press release. HP also announced that Dick Hackborn, a director since 1992 and now retired from HP, will be "lead independent director," effective in January. Dunn will remain on the HP board, however.
HP has never had a "lead independent director" before now. Hurd said in a statement that the "pretexting" hoax used by the company's hired investigators will be off limits. "I am taking action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again," Hurd said. "They have no place in HP."
HP also announced that director George Keyworth has resigned effective immediately. The company has posted a detailed summary of statements from Hurd, Dunn, Keyworth and Tom Perkins, who also resigned over this blunder. Dunn and Hurd apologized to their board members — but not reporters — for violating their privacy.