CA starts biggest historical battle


Earlier this month, a special committee at enterprise management software firm CA (formerly Computer Associates International Inc.) released a scathing report against company founder Charles Wang, claiming that Wang played a major role in the accounting fraud that last year sent his old sidekick, Sanjay Kumar, to 12 years in the big house.

The report made the claim that CA never got past its “startup mentality…that was incompatible with a publicly traded, multibillion dollar, international software enterprise.” The report’s authors say they interviewed more than 90 people and sifted through “millions of pages” of documents to try to get to the bottom of Wang’s role in the whole sad mess.

Additionally, the report’s authors stated, “The fraud pervaded the entire CA organization at every level, and was embedded in CA’s culture, as instilled by Mr. Wang, almost from the Company’s inception.”

Strong words indeed, and ones that most likely represent the first thrust in a bitter legal battle between Wang and the company he spawned back in 1976. They form but the latest chapter in the unraveling of what at one time seemed to be one of the smoothest-running operations in the IT industry.

It’s hard to believe that Charles Wang did not know of the types of frauds that Kumar and Stephen Richards, CA’s former director of worldwide sales, copped to and for which they are now paying their respective prices. After all, Wang was known to all CA employees who had occasion to work with him as a hands-on leader who never let the reins of power slip too far from his hands. How could such prolonged and blatant fudgings of the numbers possibly go unnoticed?

It looks as if the new CA is going to embark on its final mission to distance itself from the smear left on it by the accounting practices of its former keepers. And it will be the granddaddy mission of them all, coming after Wang with guns blazing.

What makes the scenario all the more interesting is that Wang has hardly retreated to some island resort in the south with his reported US$1 billion fortune he amassed while running the CA ship. He’s still a highly influential figure on Long Island, N.Y., the site of CA headquarters. He owns the New York Islanders hockey team and is one of the most visible figures in the region.

Reactions from both CA and Wang in the days after the report’s release were ones of silence. That certainly won’t last long as Wang is marched toward a fate that appears destined to be almost as unpleasant as his former comrade-in-arms.

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