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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Year

1. Serious Snooping

Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ - Get Report) spy games didn't turn out to be much fun for anyone.

This year it emerged that the Palo Alto, Calif., tech giant had been rummaging through employees' and journalists' phone records in hopes of ferreting out the source of boardroom news leaks.

The probe did eventually expose the leak: longtime director Jay Keyworth. But it also gave H-P -- once considered the Silicon Valley model of upright management -- a shiner that won't soon fade.

CEO Mark Hurd said he was sorry and promised not to make the same mistakes again. Keyworth quit after scoring an apology from Hurd. General counsel Ann Baskins and other execs left ahead of a congressional probe into the matter.

Former Chairman Patricia Dunn, who oversaw the internal inquiry, quit and left the board. Still, the new year could bring a state trial on felony identity theft and conspiracy charges.

"On behalf of Californians," state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in October, "those who crossed the legal line must be held accountable."

But accountability, it seems, isn't Dunn's specialty. As she told Congress this fall, "I do not accept personal responsibility for what happened."

She may yet have to accept something far more onerous: hard time.
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