Business Technology

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Ex-Autonomy boss set to 
challenge HP fraud claims

Mike Lynch, founder, Autonomy
Mike Lynch, founder, Autonomy

Karen Gullo

HP has said that the former finance chief of the software firm Autonomy, which was founded by Tipperary-born Mike Lynch, shouldn't be allowed to challenge its deal with investors to sue him and another former executive over a €7bn loss tied to its purchase of the software maker.

Shareholders who sued HP directors and officers now agree that Autonomy's chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain and Mr Lynch "should be held accountable for this fraud," HP said in a filing yesterday in a US federal court. They "inflicted billions of dollars of harm on the company," they claimed.

HP acquired Autonomy, a UK-based software maker, for €8bn in 2010. HP claims it was a victim of fraud because Autonomy overstated its revenue growth and prospects. Mr Lynch, from Carrick-on-Suir, has denied the claims and said HP mishandled the purchase.

Last week, a spokesperson for Mr Lynch dismissed HP's fraud claims as "breathless ranting" and "the sort of personal smear we've come to expect".

Last month, Mr Hussain sought court permission to intervene in the accord between 
HP and shareholders, saying it illegally shields HP executives from blame for the botched deal.

The accord, which settles three shareholder suits against HP, "seeks to forever bury from disclosure the real reason for its 2012 writedown of Autonomy: HP's own destruction of Autonomy's success," Mr Hussain said in court papers. The deal requires the judge's approval.

HP said last year that the US Justice Department and the UK Serious Fraud Office have opened investigations relating to Autonomy after HP accused the company of misrepresenting its performance.

In a court filing, HP said Mr Hussain knows "that prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating him, that HP is cooperating with those authorities".

Lillian ArauzHaase, a spokeswoman for US attorney Melinda Haag, said she can't confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Jina Roe, a spokeswoman for the SFO, said in an e-mail that the Autonomy probe is continuing and declined to comment further.

Mr Hussain hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

"Ask yourself why they waited a year after a merger which was vetted by hundreds of HP employees and agents, before and after, before claiming fraud (to support an almost $9 billion writedown) and then ask yourself why, if they are so concerned about fraud, HP has been scared to sue anywhere for three years," John Keker, a lawyer for Mr Hussain, said in an e-mail.

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