The head of Hewlett-Packard, CEO Mark Hurd, has resigned after an investigation found that he falsified expense reports to conceal a "close personal relationship" with a female contractor, who also received undue compensation and expense reimbursements.
Friday’s announcement from the world’s top personal computer maker sent its shares plunging 10 per cent — Hurd is one of the most admired executives in Silicon Valley and is credited with reviving HP.
The unnamed woman, a contractor who worked in the company’s marketing department from 2007 to 2009, contacted the firm’s board in June and alleged that Hurd had sexually harassed her, HP said.
The board ordered an investigation and found that the married 53-year-old did not violate HP’s sexual harassment policy, but "demonstrated a profound lack of judgment that seriously undermined his credibility and damaged his effectiveness".
The board’s decision to replace Hurd was unanimous.
Gloria Allred, a Los Angeles-based attorney, clarified that her client did not have sex with Hurd.
The two allegedly dined together several times; sources said the expense issues were related to travel, meals and lodging, and totaled about $20,000 (Rs 9.4 lakh).
Hurd, who was also chairman of HP, said the decision to step aside was a "painful" one.
"I realised there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles… that I have espoused at HP," he said in a statement. Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak will take over as interim CEO.