SEC Reportedly Investigating Hurd for Insider Trading

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-12-20 Print this article Print

Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission is investigating Mark Hurd for possible insider trading illegalities that allegedly took place in 2008.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd has been a regular magnet for legal controversy in 2010.

On Aug. 6, he was forced to resign at HP following allegations of sexual harassment by an HP social-event contractor and for falsifying reimbursement documents to cover up the relationship. Hurd settled the sexual harassment case out of court; he also settled the document problem with HP.

A few weeks after Hurd's unexpected departure at HP, a number of shareholders sued Hurd and the company for fiduciary malfeasance when the stock price suddenly took a nosedive. Those cases are pending.

Then, one day after Hurd was hired as co-president of Oracle on Sept. 6, HP brought a civil lawsuit against Hurd for breaking a severance agreement in joining one of its most powerful competitors so soon after taking a $40 million severance package. Hurd and HP settled 13 days later.

On Oct. 22, Hurd and several other HP executives were sued by a Midwest-based pension fund regarding kickbacks he and others are alleged to have paid to key influencers to earn business for HP. That one also is pending.

Now, in the latest episode of this Silicon Valley soap opera, the Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 20 that the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission is investigating Hurd for possible insider trading illegalities that allegedly took place in 2008, just before HP acquired IT consultancy Electronic Data Systems for $14 billion.

As part of the investigation, the Journal said, the SEC is examining allegations that Hurd gave inside information about HP's then-pending acquisition of EDS to a former contractor in 2008 before the deal was announced.

The probe is also trying to find out if Hurd destroyed evidence related to his August departure from HP, the Journal said.

Investigation only, no charges filed

To be clear here: This is simply an investigation by a government regulatory agency. No charges have been filed against Hurd, and the investigation may amount to nothing at all.

However, the pressure and media attention that come alongside a federal investigation -- especially one involving a president of a company as large and complicated as Oracle -- could easily stir up stockholder dissatisfaction.

Questioned by eWEEK about this, Oracle Corporate Director of Communications Deborah Hellinger said the company would have no comment on the SEC investigation.

HP spokesperson Gina Tyler told eWEEK only that "HP is cooperating fully with the SEC on its investigation."

Hurd has selected high-powered legal help, commissioning O'Melveny and Meyers white-collar-crime defense attorney Daniel Bookin to handle his defense.

"Mark acted properly in all respects," Hurd spokesman Glenn Bunting told The Journal. "It is understandable that the SEC is looking into the events surrounding Mark's departure, which was followed by a precipitous drop in the value of HP's stock."

Hurd replaced Carly Fiorina as HP's CEO in 2005, coming from NCR. He has been highly regarded for his performance in elevating HP to become the world's highest-revenue IT systems and service provider.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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