HP settles in boardroom spy case


HP settles in boardroom spy case

Antony Savvas

HP is to pay $14.5m (£7.6m) to settle civil claims brought by the California attorney general arising from the company’s boardroom spying scandal.


HP said the payout was not an admission of guilt. The out-of-court agreement commits HP to pay a total of $14.5m and implement a series of measures to ensure that its internal investigations are conducted in accordance with California law.


The company had been under investigation by the attorney general for allowing an internal inquiry into boardroom media leaks to use external investigators to access the phone records of directors, employees and journalists without their permission.


"We are pleased to settle this matter with the attorney general and are committed to ensuring that HP regains its standing as a global leader in corporate ethics and responsibility," said Mark Hurd, HP chairman and chief executive officer.


There was no finding of liability against HP as part of the settlement, which includes an injunction and agreement that the California attorney general will not pursue civil claims against HP or its current and former directors, officers and employees.


Under the agreement, $13.5m of HP's payment will be used to create a privacy and piracy fund to assist California state prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting consumer privacy and information piracy violations. 


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In addition, $650,000 will be used to pay statutory damages and $350,000 will reimburse the Attorney General's office for the costs of its investigation.


HP is also overhauling its internal investigation procedures to make sure it doesn’t contravene state and federal laws in the future.


The HP civil settlement with the state doesn’t let off the company’s former chairman Patricia Dunn though.


Dunn, along with others, currently faces criminal charges for her part in helping to oversee the boardroom leaking investigation. All the accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges.


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