Motorola: Former CFO Wiped Laptop WIth Data Destruction ProgramMotorola: Former CFO Wiped Laptop WIth Data Destruction Program
An interesting new twist has come to light in the case of the "unjustly fired" ex-chief financial officer at Motorola. The latest shot taken by Motorola at Paul Liska is an accusation that he destroyed material evidence.
April 16, 2009
An interesting new twist has come to light in the case of the "unjustly fired" ex-chief financial officer at Motorola. The latest shot taken by Motorola at Paul Liska is an accusation that he destroyed material evidence.Ah, the plot thickens. Reuters is reporting that "Motorola asked the Cook Country Circuit Court in Illinois to sanction its former CFO for 'willful spoliation of relevant, material evidence.'"
Apparently, Paul Liska left Motorola with his laptop on January 29. When he finally got around to returning it to Motorola, the company found there was nothing on the hard drive. After having a forensics expert examine the machine, Motorola determined that Liska has "cleansed" the device with a data destruction program that was used on two separate dates. By using the data scrubber, Liska's laptop was "virtually devoid of any usable data related to the case." Motorola claims Liska was fired for performance issues, while he maitains that he was fired for planning to blow the whistle for Motorola's misleading 2009 handset unit forecasts. Motorola wants Liska to turn over all his personal computers and storage units so they may be searched by Motorola for evidence that Motorola hopes to use against him in court. Meanwhile, JPMorgan has taken a close look at all the court filings. It believes:Liska's lawsuit essentially boils down to his belief that he was fired as CFO for (a) presenting to the board concerns over the 09 plan for Mobile Devices and (b) that Mobile Devices had an unsupportable Q4'08 business plan. Motorola's claim is that (a) Liska was essentially fired for incompetence and divisiveness, (b) that the decision to replace Liska was made 6 weeks prior to the board meeting, and (c) that Liska created the board presentation - which, at least in the redacted version we could read, appeared to say nothing new or inflammatory - once he learned he was being replaced in order to create a story that he could later use to extort additional severance. Given that Liska's attorney, according to Motorola's account, attempted to negotiate a stunning $37M termination contract - via email no less so we can only assume a record of it is available and is therefore true - it would appear that MOT has the more plausible argument in this situation.JPMorgan's analysts go on to call the entire thing a "soap opera." I'd say that's a fair characterization of these events. It believes that, in the end, Motorola won't be impacted financially by the entire episode.
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