“Ethics Pays!” (or at least: “Lack of Ethics Costs!”)

Does everyone remember that story from September, about allegations that Hewlett Packard used unethical, perhaps illegal, methods to determine who on their board was leaking information to the press? I blogged about it here and here.

Well, the first part of this fiasco (i.e., the civil case) is settled, and HP comes out not looking so swell. Here’s the story, from CNN: HP pays $14.5m to settle lawsuit

Hewlett-Packard Co. agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer accusing the company of unfair business practices in its crusade to unmask the source of boardroom leaks to the news media.

Interestingly, the Attorney General had some words of praise for HP:

“Fortunately, Hewlett-Packard is not Enron,” Lockyer said. “I commend the firm for cooperating instead of stonewalling, for taking instead of shirking responsibility, and for working with my office to expeditiously craft a creative resolution.”

Anyone care to guess how much recalcitrance would have cost HP?

Final note: there are still criminal charges outstanding. Among the accused is “former ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker.” As I mentioned in my Sept. 18 posting, Hunsaker (a lawyer) isn’t mentioned on HP’s website. That leads me to suspect that he has no actual expertise in corporate ethics (or else HP would surely have bragged about that). I guess you get what you pay for.

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