HP Axes Local Execs on Gray Export Suspicions

An internal probe by HP Europe into gray export practices by local company executives led to a major shake-up last week, as the HP Israel CEO Gil Rosenfeld and 13 others were informed Thursday night that they were fired.

The heads of HP Europe sent the notice by e-mail, noting that suspicions had been raised against the local workers involving gray exports. The company called on them to attend a hearing to be held today at the Tel Aviv Hilton with company executives. Shortly thereafter, the company shut down the official e-mail boxes of these employees.

The employees have known for several weeks that the company was handling an internal probe against the Israeli branch on suspicion of violating company regulations that include selling products designated for the Israeli market to other countries at cheaper prices. However, they didn't know that the company had made a final decision before hearing their side of the story. Rosenfeld sat for several hours a number of weeks ago with investigators, asking them to show him proof.

They provided him with documents attesting to improper practices at the local branch. Rosenfeld promised to take care of them and thought that everything had worked out.

The documents presented to him were not tied to gray market activities. But, the e-mail he received from company heads took him by total surprise.

Yesterday, 11 executives from HP Europe and HP Global landed in Israel ahead of today's meeting. Meanwhile, Rosenfeld and the other fired workers engaged in feverish consultations the entire weekend. They decided to fight for their reputation. If absolute proof isn't provided to them indicated they violated regulations and did such serious things as they were blamed for, they intend to take HP Global to court.

Rosenfeld's assertiveness contrasts with previous, similar affairs uncovered at Cisco Systems Israel and Microsoft Israel, in which those fired quietly left the scene. Rosenfeld responded vigorously that, in fact, he is the one who uncovered irregularities in the regulations and also proposed an investigative team to take certain measures. He wondered out loud who passed on the information to HP Global, and insinuated that he had been set up.