US REGULATORS are investigating allegations around former Hewlett-Packard (HP) chief executive Mark Hurd’s exit from the company, it was announced yesterday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is probing allegations that Hurd shared inside information with former HP events contractor Jodie Fisher, whose sexual harassment accusations led to an expenses investigation that caused him to resign.
The SEC is looking into all the allegations, including the internal inquiry that led to his departure. The investigation may not result in a formal claim against HP or Hurd, however.
“HP is cooperating fully with the SEC on its investigation,” a HP spokesperson said in the company’s only statement on the matter so far.
HP has reportedly given SEC investigators a letter sent by Fisher to HP’s board detailing the claims against Hurd.
The insider trading claims allege that Hurd told Fisher about HP’s plans to buy service provider Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 2008 before it was publicly known. Fisher has denied that she used the information or profited from it.
Hurd has always denied having an inappropriate relationship with Fisher and HP’s board conducted an internal probe that concluded Hurd didn’t violate the company’s sexual-harassment policy. But when investigating the allegations, the board found that Hurd had filed misleading expense claims to secure money for Fisher.
Hurd’s resignation in August caused a backlash at HP as shareholders responded furiously to the decision. He is credited with building the company into a tech giant – not least by engineering the $13.9bn (£9bn) takeover of EDS. To add to the controversy, Hurd was immediately appointed co-president at Oracle, HP’s major rival, after resigning.
“Mark acted properly in all respects,” said a spokesman for Hurd. “It is understandable that the SEC is looking into the events surrounding Mark’s departure, which was followed by a precipitous drop in the value of HP’s stock.”