HP to pay $55m to settle US fraud charges -

HP has agreed to pay $55 million to settle a US investigation of false billings.

The money is going to be used to clear up allegations that HP paid others so they would recommend its products to government buyers. Two whistleblowers filed claims in the US court in 2004 - the Justice Department joined the case and filed its own complaint in 2007.

The money will also be put into resolving claims that a 2002 contract between HP and the General Services Administration, the US government's chief procurement body, was defectively priced because HP provided incomplete information to it.

Gina Tyler, a HP spokeswoman, said in a statement: "HP denies engaging in any illegal conduct in connection with these matters.

"We believe it is in the best interest of our stakeholders to resolve the matter and move beyond this issue."

The US earlier settled similar kickback allegations involving EMC, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers  and Computer Sciences Corp.

A spokesman for the US Department of Justice said the the government would always take action against outfits seeking "to taint the government procurement process with illegal kickbacks".

''Contractors must deal fairly with the government when doing business with federal agencies," he added.

According to Auntie, HP said the size of the payout would affect earnings on its shares, which now could suggest why  former winer and diner of soft porn stars and ex CEO Mark Hurd wanted to flog all his $30 million worth. We were wondering what the story was when we heard yesterday.

*EyeSee - Rejected straplines: "Hurd it on the grapevine," "Do you really want to Hurd me".