CA channel insists 'business as usual'

CA channel insists 'business as usual'

Australian partners of software titan Computer Associates (CA) have adopted an attitude of 'customers first' in the hope the company will fulfill a deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice.

Last month's indictment of ex-CEO and chairman, Sanjay Kumar, on charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice left the channel resolute in its dedication to business as usual.

"We're focusing on growing our business and supporting customers," Harris Technology's managing director, David Foster, said. "The products are bigger than the people involved."

"We would sooner keep our eyes on our customers," Interwoven's managing director, Richard Collins, said.

In April, Kumar resigned as chairman and CEO of CA, taking the role as chief software architect, following a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into illegal accounting practices.

In December, the SEC began investigating allegations that top executives at CA had authorised the backdating of contracts to falsely boost quarterly revenues between 1998 and 2000.

The SEC filed fraud charges last month against CA, Kumar, former vice-president Stephen Richards, and general counsel, Steven Woghin.

These alleged improper recognition of revenue as well as obstruction of the investigation.

Kumar and Richards have since filed a not guilty plea in a New York district court.

News of Kumar's involvement in illegal accountancy practices came as a shock to local ex-employees.

During his rise from chief operating officer to chairman and CEO, Kumar had garnered a reputation of fairness and dedication to his partners and customers. He was a well-known throughout the organisation and sent monthly video messages to all staff with updates on company performance.

CA's former media relations manager, David Sanday, worked for the company from 1997 to 2001, including a period when Stephen Richards was managing director of CA Australia.

He told ARN there was never any evidence of malpractice.

"Kumar visited Australia once a year, spending time meeting partners and answering questions from the staff," Sanday said. "He changed the business so it had a strong customer focus, put in place a CRM program, and focused us more on the channel."

Sanday did not think CA was another IT company swept up in the need to maintain dotcom-era revenues.

"Our revenue stream was from mainframe software licences - the dotcom boom never really affected CA as it played by a different set of rules," he said.

"It was a great, aggressive sales business," former sales manager, Craig Scroggie, said. "There was little visibility of company accountancy practices on a local level. For us, the end of the month was the end of the month."

News of the displacement of the top level of CA's management has also raised questions over the future of the company's structure.

In 2001, the CA board defeated a hostile bid from Sam Wyly, the previous owner of two CA acquisitions, to oust senior members of the board, including Kumar and CA founder, Charles Wang. Wyly was looking to take control of CA and split the company into four separate entities.

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