California Attorney General Says No Evidence Yet Linking HP CEO to Wrongdoing

The California attorney general said Friday there was no evidence yet linking Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) Chief Executive Mark Hurd to any criminal wrongdoing, as scrutiny grew over his role in the PC maker's probe of a boardroom leak.

"We don't yet have any evidence that would lead to the CEO as one of those that committed the crimes," Lockyer told the CNBC cable television network in an interview. "But we're not complete yet. We haven't finished the investigation."

Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office is investigating whether HP used illegal tactics to identify the source of the media leaks dating back to 2005, such as use false identities to obtain the phone records of employees and reporters.

Hurd, who led a comeback at HP since taking the helm in April 2005, is due to discuss the company's investigation at a news conference later Friday. He will also appear next week at a House subcommittee hearing over the investigation.

Hurd became a new focus in the scandal following published reports this week that he was more involved in the probe than originally thought.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Hurd approved an elaborate "sting" operation on a reporter to determine the source of the leaks.

HP shares fell 29 cents to $34.58 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. The stock dropped 5.2 percent after the Post report Thursday.

Lockyer said his office was in the middle of its inquiry but would not give a timetable for its conclusion.

"I don't think it's months away, it's more like weeks or days," he said.

Lockyer said his inquiry would trace "up the corporate chain" at HP to determine which executives had participated in the leak probe. HP has said outside investigators hired by the company faked identities to obtain the phone records of board directors, employees and journalists.

Hurd may face greater pressure to resign, even if his involvement is not proven, as HP aims to rebuild credibility, analysts said.

HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, who spearheaded the investigation, said earlier this month she would leave her post in January.

The company first disclosed its internal probe on Sept. 6.