Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

When CEOs misstep, boards of directors often act as judge, jury

NEW YORK — Innocent until proven guilty? Maybe not, if the defendant is a CEO and the jury is a company's board of directors.

Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn resigned this week after the retailer's board launched an investigation into his "personal conduct." The 28-year Best Buy veteran joins a list of big-name CEOs who stepped down or were fired after getting into trouble for their actions outside of the corner office. The alleged offenses have varied widely, from lying to cheating, and so have the punishments.

Some wound up leaving their companies with a golden parachute. Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard for instance, resigned and received a severance package worth $30 million after an internal investigation by the company uncovered some expense account irregularities.

Others, like business magnate Martha Stewart, suffered more severe consequences. Stewart was forced to resign from her namesake media empire and spent five months in a West Virginia jail after being convicted of lying to federal prosecutors about an illegal sale she made of another company's shares.

Best Buy has not given details about the circumstances surrounding the Dunn investigation, but Ron Hutcheson, a spokesman for the board of the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, said the "findings will be made public and appropriate action will be taken if warranted."

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