Motorola: Ex-CFO destroyed key evidence

Motorola accused its former CFO, Paul Liska, of destroying key evidence needed for a whistleblower lawsuit Liska has brought against the company.

The Schaumberg, Ill.-based handset and equipment maker asked the Cook Country Circuit Court in Illinois to sanction Liska for "willful spoliation of relevant, material evidence." The court will hear Motorola's case April 29. Motorola is seeking to have a judge order Liska to turn over all relevant computers, documents and materials to his case so that Motorola can examine them. The company is also seeking a hearing to determine the extent to which Liska destroyed evidence.

The handset maker said that when Liska returned his company-issued laptop to Motorola on Feb. 17, it was "virtually devoid of any usable data related to the case."

In court filings that were unsealed last week, Liska claims he was fired from the company because he questioned the accuracy of financial forecasts for the firm's mobile devices division. Motorola has said Liska filed his whistle-blower lawsuit as a way to cover up his poor performance while he was at the company. The company also said 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, claiming he had been fired as a retaliatory measure.

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 Reuter's article
- see this Chicago Tribune article

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