Thursday, December 07, 2006

HP a Case of You Do the Crime, You Pay the Fine!

Just days ago I commiserated over the lack of convictions and jail time for white collar criminals. Whether is be stock option manipulation or accounting fraud, settlements are reached where no guilt is admitted by the company or executive as monies change hands. The Hewlett Packard settlement announced today fits in the same ballpark.

For fraudulently obtaining phone and other records in a private investigation, HP agreed to pay $14.5 million in a settlement with the state Attorney General’s office. The AG’s office was quite complimentary of Hewlett Packard and its approach to settling the case.

"Fortunately, Hewlett-Packard is not Enron," Bill Lockyer said. "I commend the firm for cooperating instead of stonewalling, for taking instead of shirking responsibility, and for working with my office to expeditiously craft a creative resolution."

“It's a good example of the HP that we all grew up with, the old HP of Hewlett and Packard, the ethics and principles of corporate responsibility and good management practices," he said. "We see those re-emerging in the way they dealt with this matter."

While HP isn’t Enron, its desire to obtain information on suspected leakers more resembled to the federal government. It disregarded existing laws in its zeal to track suspected wrongdoers.

At least this time I couldn’t find the statement, “the company neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing.” The federal government’s position is crystal clear. While behaving rather HP’ish, it admits no wrongdoing. Our court system will confirm or deny their position. If denied, will Bush’s administration have to pay a fine?

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