The old adage should read 'Cheats can prosper' following Mark Hurd's departure from Hewlett-Packard this month. Mr Hurd, the formerly successful CEO of HP, has been forced to resign his job after not adhering to the company's code of ethics.
His problems started in June when a marketing contractor to the business accused him of sexual harassment. An inquiry into the claim revealed that there had been no sexual impropriety but found that many inappropriate payments had been made to the woman by the company. Hurd had falsely claimed around $20,000 in expenses on behalf of his accuser.
General Counsel Michael Holston stated that Hurd had "demonstrated a profound lack of judgement that seriously undermined his credibility and damaged his effectiveness in leading HP". Share prices fell by nearly $10 billion following the announcement of his resignation. Hurd repaid the $20,000 to HP and the woman received an undisclosed pay-off from him the day before he resigned.
It appears that the company was unable to dismiss him directly because of a legal loophole in his contract. Therefore he was able to leave with a handsome severance package and retain his stock options. Estimates vary between $28 and $40 million. That is an obscene amount.
My husband worked for HP for several years. Had he been involved in this sort of scandal he would have been dismissed forthwith with no severance pay, no stock options and the possibility of a criminal case being brought against him.
Mark Hurd has walked away, head bowed in apparent contrition, but with more money than most could ever dream of. I hope it keeps him warm in bed. I doubt his wife will.