Former Motorola CFO strikes back at company

Former Motorola CFO Paul Liska claims he was fired from the company because he questioned the accuracy of financial forecasts for the firm's mobile devices division, according to a lawsuit unsealed late last week.


In the suit, which was filed Feb. 20, Liska claims that by late 2008 he had grown worried that "the executives within the Mobile Devices business were, intentionally or recklessly, materially misstating its 2009 forecasts and strategic plan."

Liska also claims in the suit that "in a little over 90 days (beginning in late September), Mobile Devices' internal forecasts for 2009 radically changed, with projected unit volume down 40 million units (40 percent), sales down $7 billion (47 percent), and operating earnings down $625 million (500 percent)."

Motorola declined to comment Thursday, when the lawsuit was unsealed. However, in a filing the company made March 23, which was also unsealed last week, the company said Liska filed his whistle-blower lawsuit as a way to cover up his poor performance while he was at the company. Motorola also said that Liska made a "contrived presentation" to the company's board Jan. 28 in which he raised concerns about the handset unit, something Motorola said was done solely so that Liska could file a subsequent retaliatory lawsuit.

Liska claims he was fired after a board meeting Jan. 29. When Motorola reported its fourth quarter earnings Feb. 3, it announced his dismissal. Motorola said in a proxy statement Feb. 19 that Liska was fired "for cause." One day later, Liska filed suit. The lawsuit had been sealed by the Cook County Circuit Court clerk's office.

Motorola hired Liska to try to help spin off the company's troubled mobile devices division, but that plan was put on hold. Liska called for a dramatic restructuring of Motorola's business. Motorola reported a $3.6 billion net loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the handset division posted a $595 million operating loss in the quarter.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

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