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H-P, Mark Hurd And The FCPA

Will new investigations by the SEC into the departure of Hewlett Packard’s former CEO converge with ongoing probes into the company’s overseas sales practices?

Mark Hurd headed H-P for five years until he left the company in August. Bloomberg said today the “SEC is checking whether Hurd passed information about H-P’s $13.9 billion acquisition of technology-consulting company Electronic Data Systems Corp. to a former H-P event hostess in 2008, before the deal was announced.”

She alleged in a letter to H-P he had sexually harassed her between 2007 and 2009. Her letter, according to the Wall Street Journal, “also alleged Mr. Hurd told her in March 2008 of H-P’s still-secret plan to acquire EDS.”

The WSJ said the SEC is also looking at Hurd’s use of corporate expenses in his dealings with the event hostess.

Hurd is now co-president of Oracle.

A few months before he left H-P, the company self-reported to the SEC and DOJ possible corrupt payments in Europe. It said investigations in Germany related to transactions in Russia from 2001 to 2006. After Hurd left, H-P publicly disclosed DOJ and SEC investigations of potential compliance problems in Russia, Austria, Serbia, the Netherlands, and perhaps other countries. It said the U.S. enforcement agencies had requested documents dating back to 2000.

In May this year, a contributor to the FCPA Blog questioned the timing of H-P’s self-reporting and public disclosures. H-P, he said, “apparently first learned of a bribery and corruption investigation when it was served with document requests by German authorities in December 2009 — around the same time that three former and current H-P employees were arrested by the same German authorities for allegedly paying bribes to make sales in Russia. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, HP did not report this investigation to the DOJ and SEC until April 2010 . . .”

The company’s first public-record filing about the bribery and corruption investigation was in September this year.

None of the reports have linked Hurd to any potential FCPA problems at H-P. His tenure at the company began at least five years after some of the incidents under investigation.

The SEC and DOJ haven’t commented on their investigations.

A spokesman for Hurd told the WSJ: “Mark acted properly in all respects. 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 H-P’s stock.”

H-P said it is cooperating in the investigations.

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