Computer Associates chairman and CEO Kumar Sanjay has done a Bill Gates and stepped down from his position to assume the new made-up role of chief software architect.

Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO in January 2000 to the chief software architect role just as the US Department of Justice was consdering breaking up the company for abusing its monopoly. He did however retain his chairman role.

Kumar is dropping the chairman title and has also left the Board just as SEC and DoJ investigations into the company's accounting practices pick up .Yesterday, another nine CA staff were fired from its legal and accounting department, and last week three senior executives, including the ex-CFO pleaded guilty to improper accounting.

Board member Lewis Ranieri has been elected chairman. CA will soon name an interim CEO, the company said.

CA, one of the industry's largest software providers, has admitted to booking revenue from contracts before they were finalised to inflate its quarterly results, a scheme that has led to criminal charges. "The changes in Sanjay's role are not based on the conclusion that he engaged in any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the conduct in question occurred during his tenure and the board felt this action was appropriate," Ranieri said in a prepared statement.

Kumar served as CA's president and chief operating officer during the period in which the accounting violations occurred. CA reiterated Wednesday its previous acknowledgement that the company cannot predict the scope or outcome of the SEC and DOJ investigations and that the company and its officers may face criminal and civil charges. The four executives charged to date have pleaded guilty to charges including securities fraud and obstruction of justice.