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HP agrees to pay $55 million to settle investigation into illegal kickbacks

The company that kicked Mark Hurd to the curb for financial impropriety has today reported it'll pay $55 million in a settlement with the US Department of Justice relating to some fiscal delinquency of its own. HP was accused of greasing up the wheels of business, as it were, by throwing cash around to companies who would recommend its services to state procurement agencies. This particular set of allegations related to a federal contract obtained by HP in 2002, and the settlement also extinguishes investigation into whether or not the computer vendor had provided incomplete information to the US government. That's all well and good, but we have to question the size of these levies. Today's also the day that HP's announced a new $800 million supply contract with the US Air Force -- would a fine that's less than a tenth of the contract's value really deter HP's entrepreneurial spirit?