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Motorola's handheld self abuse continues

Language gets more colourful as CFO prepares for court

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Associated Press has been going over documents concerning the suit filed by Motorola's former Chief Financial Officer, providing more details of Paul Liska's accusation that he was given the elbow for blowing the whistle on the company's finances.

The filing details how Paul Liska gave a presentation to a board subcommittee on January 28th, during which he revealed just how bad things were in the handset division, a revelation that he alleges got him fired. The company that fired him claims he set the whole thing up as a scam to extract money.

The suit, as explained by AP, doesn't contain the complete presentation - commercially sensitive parts are blacked out - but it shows that Mr. Liska explained that Motorola's mobile-phone division had missed expectations for the last three months, and that the projections for the rest of the year were very optimistic. He also pointed out that things were not improving, in a thinly-veiled dig at Sanjey Jha, who's been tasked with working a minor miracle on the department.

What Mr.Liska didn't know was that immediately prior to his presentation the board had been in session with Dr. Jha, seeing the latest technologies that were going to turn the business round in time for Christmas. Anyone who's worked in the industry will know how easily executives are swayed by shiny toys, so criticism of the miracle-worker was probably poorly timed.

The company is claiming that Paul Liska was already on his way out, that his performance had deteriorated since Dr. Jha was appointed and that he never got on with the good doctor. According to that version, the presentation was deliberately inflammatory in order to provide grounds for a suit.

Mr. Liska, obviously, claims he's been pilloried for revealing the truth - though it seems hard to believe the board could be unaware of how badly the mobile division is operating when it keeps dragging the company to its knees.

Since the filing, in February, Motorola has stated in a regulatory filing that Paul Liska was fired from his job "for cause", a term which can cover a multitude of sins and which is a potentially career-destroying entry on the CV. Not that he'll get much of a reference from a company that describes him, in court documents, as "a caustic personality, a disloyal foe out to harm the company".

None of this is going to sell any mobile phones, or help the company find any other solution to it's dire position, even if it is hugely entertaining for the rest of us. ®

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