Hewlett Packard boss Meg Whitman has been awarded shares, bonuses and stock options worth more than $15m (£9.3m) in 2012, despite writing off $8.8bn against the acquisition of Cambridge-based software company Autonomy.
The huge payout, which includes a base salary of just $1, comes as HP accuses the technology giant Autonomy of "serious accounting improprieties" when HP bought the former FTSE 100 darling in 2011. HP has confirmed that the US Department of Justice is looking at the charges and that details have also been given to the UK's Serious Fraud Office.
Autonomy founder, Mike Lynch, left the group in May when Ms Whitman – a one-time candidate to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California – reportedly forced him to go after poor financial numbers. However, Mr Lynch, who founded Autonomy's predecessor, Cambridge Neurodynamics, with a £2,000 loan in 1991, has denied and repeatedly hit back at the subsequent allegations. Last month, he said he "absolutely rejects" the claims and added that Ms Whitman "is not on my Christmas card list this year".
Ms Whitman is trying to arrest a dire performance, with declining revenue over five consecutive quarters. Already 29,000 jobs have gone as she streamlines the business.
As she assesses the future of some of the group's weaker businesses, Ms Whitman said last week that she needed five years to restore HP to its former glories, and conceded "some people don't like that answer".
As part of the remuneration package, Ms Whitman was granted a bonus of $1.7m out of a maximum award of $2.4m. She became chief executive in September 2011.
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