HP settles SEC claim over resignation

Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday settled allegations that it failed adequately to disclose the reasons for the departure of a member of its board of directors in the run-up to last year’s boardroom spying scandal.

Under the settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the world’s biggest computer maker neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing for its handling of the departure of Tom Perkins, a Silicon Valley financier and longtime HP board member.

Mr Perkins quit the board in May last year after a disagreement over HP’s handling of an investigation into boardroom leaks.

In August, it emerged that HP’s investigators had en­gaged in improper tactics to uncover the source of the leaks, including posing as journalists and board members to obtain their private telephone numbers. The ensuing scandal led to the departure of Patricia Dunn, HP’s then-chairman, and hearings on Capitol Hill.

The SEC said it had concluded that HP should not have limited its disclosure to the fact that Perkins had resigned, but should also have reported that he did so “because of a disagreement with the company’s operations, policies or practices and provided a brief description of the circumstances around the disagreement”.

HP agreed to a cease-and-desist order barring it from violating public reporting requirements. It will not be required to pay a fine.

The company on Wednesday also announced it had won a contract worth up to $5.6bn to supply equipment to Nasa, the US space agency.

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