Suffolk entrepreneur at the centre of fraud claims welcomes day in court as he fights charges
The Suffolk software entrepreneur at the centre of what’s been dubbed the UK’s biggest fraud trial is said to be pleased finally to have the opportunity to respond to accusations made against him in an English courtroom.
A bitter eight-year battle between Mike Lynch, the founder of Cambridge software business Autonomy, and its purchaser, Hewlett Packard (HP), comes to a head on Monday (March 25) as HP sues him in the high court in London for more than £3.3bn over the £8bn sale of the company in 2011.
Dr Lynch strenuously denies any wrongdoing, claiming that HP botched the purchase of Autonomy, and that their case is about a dispute over differing accounting systems in the US and UK at the time of sale.
MORE – IT giant sues leading UK technology entrepreneurSeparately, in the US, a fraud case against Dr Lynch, who lives in the Woodbridge area with his family, was ramped up on Friday (March 22) where additional charges were laid.
US prosecutors added three new criminal charges to their indictment against him, including a new charge of securities fraud, as well as additional charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.
They are part of a 17-count indictment filed with the federal court in San Francisco.
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The UK civil case, which will take place in the High Court’s Chancery Division, will be a complex one, and is expected to last nine months, with Dr Lynch taking the stand.
A spokeswoman for Dr Lynch said: “Mike Lynch is pleased to finally have the opportunity to respond in court to HP’s accusations. There was no fraud at Autonomy.
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“Rather, this is a case that distils down to a dispute over differences between UK and US accounting systems and will focus on the appropriate exercise of business judgments made in a particular context and time with the full knowledge and approval of numerous financial and technical experts and advisers,” she said.
“The real story is that HP, after a history of failed acquisitions, botched the purchase of Autonomy and destroyed the company, seeking to blame others. Mike will not be a scapegoat for their failures.”
HP claims Autonomy founder Mike Lynch and chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain inflated the value of Autonomy before the sale – a charge both deny.
Mr Lynch and Mr Hussain deny the claims.
Dr Lynch was fired from Autonomy, where he had continued to be employed in mid-2012, and in November of the same year the value of Autonomy was written down by HP in its books by around £6.6bn. It said £3.8bn of that was based on pre-acquisition “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures”.