Hewlett-Packard’s chairman and general counsel have agreed to testify on Capitol Hill about their roles in a boardroom spying scandal that has sparked a crisis at the top of the world’s second-biggest computer group.
Patricia Dunn, chairman, and Ann Baskins, general counsel, will appear before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on September 28 and are expected to testify, according to a committee spokesperson. Larry Sonsini, a veteran Silicon Valley lawyer and HP’s outside counsel, has also agreed to testify.
Lawmakers on the committee are expected to vote on Wednesday on a measure that would give committee chairman Joe Barton and John Dingell, the highest ranking Democrat on the committee, the power to fast-track subpoenas for information from HP.
A committee aide said the vote would give congressional investigators greater flexibility in eliciting information from the company if HP moved to hold back documents or if executives changed their minds about testifying over the weekend. Without the measure, Mr Barton and Mr Dingell would have to hold a vote of the whole committee before issuing a subpoena. So far, the company and executives have voluntarily submitted information, including thousands of pages of documents.
Ronald DeLia, a private investigator who has been tied to the case, is also expected to appear before the committee with Ms Dunn and Ms Baskins but “may” invoke his fifth amendment right and refuse to testify, a committee spokesperson said.
The committee widened its investigation into the scandal on Tuesday by calling on two more witnesses to testify: Anthony Gentilucci, HP’s head of global security, and Joe Depante, who owns a private investigation firm that worked on the internal HP investigation.
HP admitted earlier this month that investigators hired by its board had posed as board members, journalists and employees in order to get hold of personal telephone records that could point to the source of a boardroom leak.
News that HP’s investigators used false pretences to obtain the records, a practice known as “pretexting,” has sparked criminal investigations by the California attorney general and the FBI in addition to US lawmakers.
The controversy last week claimed the job of Ms Dunn, who announced she would step down as HP chairman in January in an effort to defuse the crisis. Mark Hurd, chief executive, will assume the role of chairman, while Ms Dunn will remain as a director.
HP admitted at the weekend that its spies had inappropriately obtained telephone records of Michael Moeller, a press spokesman, in addition to those of board members and journalists.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Knight in Boston.