HP CEO Mark Hurd went from Steve Jobs-esque job security to hurried resignation in just moments. Depending on some unknowns — was there really no sex? Did he really steer HP money to his paramour? — his reputation could be soiled for good.
Of course, Hurd’s not alone. There’s nothing like a lurid affair, sexual harassment claims, tax evasion, or criminal charges to cause a corporate leader’s downfall.
As a tribute to Hurd, we’ve picked a shortlist of the most shocking CEO collapses–folks who went from kings of the world to disgrace.
Company: W.R. Grace
JP Bolduc, the former CEO of chemical company W.R. Grace, left abruptly in March 1995 after allegations of sexual harassment. Female employees had complained that he had harassed them verbally and physically for years. Bolduc denied the allegations, but stated in a press release of the time that he was quitting because of 'differences in style and philosophy'.
Charles Campbell resigned quietly in 1999 after sexual misconduct accusations from his former assistant. According to her, the (married) CEO of the shoe manufacturer Florsheim allegedly had romantic meetings in his corporate apartment, brought his mistresses on business trips and enjoyed himself with them in company limousines. The details of the lawsuit were not divulged.
Company: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods
James J. McDermott Jr., the former CEO of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., not only had an adulterous relationship with a porn star known as 'Marilyn Star', he also gave her insider investment information so she could make at least an extra $88,135. He resigned from the investment bank in June 1999, and was arrested and charged with insider trading in December of the same year. He was convicted in April 2000.
Jeff Papows resigned in 2000 after a year surrounded by controversies. A former executive of his company filed a sexual discrimination complaint and the Wall Street Journal reported that he might have lied about his personal history, including his military past, to boost Lotus' sales and its brand image.
Company: Westar Energy
Westar CEO David Wittig was convicted in September 2005 for having taken millions of unaccounted dollars from his company. He was found guilty of wire fraud, money laundering and dodging internal controls during his time as CEO. Wittig was sentenced to a fine of $5 million and 18 years behind bars.
Dennis Kozlowski resigned in midst of an investigation of several months on possible tax evasion. He allegedly transferred hundred of millions of dollars into funds from which he used the money without paying his taxes. The company had said in a statement that Kozlowski left for 'personal reasons'. It was only in 2005 that Kozlowski was found guilty of grand larceny and conspiracy and was sentenced to 8 1/3 years to 25 years.
The irony of it. Former Boeing CEO Harry C. Stonecipher had been asked to come back in 2003 to boost the firm's reputation after a series of military procurement scandals that had ended up in the resignation of his predecessor. That didn't really work out - he had to resign in March 2005 after it came out that he had an affair with a female employee. Mission accomplished. He quit in 'embarassment', without specifying what exactly was so embarrassing.
Company: Savvis Communications
Robert McCormick allegedly spent $241,000 in a Manhattan strip clup in 2003, and then declined to pay the massive tab on his corporate charge card. That's according to American Express, who sued Savvis Communications Corp. At first, McCormick's excuse was fraud, as he said he had only paid $20,000 in the club. But in the end, he had to leave the company in 2005.
Company: Integral Systems Inc.
Steven R. Chamberlain was indicted by a jury in late 2005 in Howard County of two sex crimes, including sexual abuse of a minor and a third-degree sex offence. Apparently, he had not chosen to tell the company's board about the charges, seeing them as a personal matter. He left possibly to save Integral's reputation.
Before Hayward, there was Lord Browne. The former BP CEO resigned in 2007 because of embarrassing details of his gay sex life, brought up in a court case and published in the media. The juicy details about his relationship with his lover cost him his job, and at least 3.5 million pounds from his retirement package.
Company: Andrews Technologies
Oil executive Robert Andrews, also the ex-husband of George W. Bush's brother's wife, must have had some wild nights. A stripper with an overdosis of cocaine was found in his villa in 2008. The girl died later on and Andrews pleaded guilty to owning less than a gram of cocaine. He faced probation -- a fine and 80 days of community service.
David Davidar left Penguin after a sexual harassment complaint of a former director of the company, Lisa Rundle. She had accused him of harassing her for three years and then assaulting her at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Although Davidar and Penguin stated that the former CEO went voluntarily, the lawsuit between Davidar, Rundle and Penguin was settled quietly, reports the Times of India.
Company: David Jones
Inappropriate behaviour was Mark McInnes' downfall. He quit his job at the Australian retailer after a female colleague complained about his attitude and sued him. He immediately resigned after admitting how 'unbecoming of a chief executive' his behaviour was and apparently left the country.
Now former HP CEO Mark Hurd resigned last week after a claim of sexual harassment made by a former contractor against him and HP was investigated. It came out that sexual harassment was not involved, but that he had a relationship with a contractor who received payments that were seen as 'inappropriate'.
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