Ex-Autonomy CEO Michael Lynch Indicted for Fraud Tied to 2011 HP Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Michael Lynch, the former chief executive officer of Autonomy Corp., stepped down Friday as an adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May after he was charged with fraud by the U.S.

The indictment stems from the British software maker’s 2011 sale to Hewlett-Packard Co. Prosecutors had long identified Lynch, 53, as a co-conspirator with his chief financial officer at Autonomy, Sushovan Hussain, who was found guilty in April of orchestrating an accounting fraud to arrive at the $10.3 billion price Hewlett-Packard paid for the company.

Ex-Autonomy CEO Michael Lynch Indicted for Fraud Tied to 2011 HP Deal

Autonomy was the U.K.’s second-largest software business at the time. Hewlett-Packard later wrote down its value by $8.8 billion, citing fraud by Autonomy and asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate.

Following the indictment, Lynch resigned from the U.K. government’s Council for Science and Technology with immediate effect, a government spokeswoman said Friday in an email.

Lynch used false and misleading statements from 2009, 2010 and early 2011 “to make Autonomy more attractive to a potential purchaser like HP,” according to the indictment, which says Lynch made $815 million when HP acquired his Autonomy shares.

Lynch’s lawyers called the indictment a travesty, saying it shouldn’t have been brought in the U.S. as it “targets a British citizen with rehashed allegations about a British company regarding events that occurred in Britain a decade ago.” They said the U.S. is making Lynch a “scapegoat” for HP’s “long history of failed acquisitions.”

“There was no conspiracy at Autonomy and no fraud against HP for the DoJ to take up,” attorneys Chris Morvillo and Reid Weingarten said in an emailed statement.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. praised the indictment. HPE was formed in the breakup of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s corporate computing divisions from its printer and PC business in 2015.

“HPE believes that the facts uncovered during the course of this matter will further demonstrate the harm that was caused by Dr. Lynch, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Hussain and others to HP,” spokesman Emmanuel Fyle said in an email.

The charges were filed as lawyers representing Invoke Capital, a London-based venture capital firm founded by Lynch, are resisting a court order requiring Hussain to disclose details about his financial dealings with Lynch that prosecutors said raise concerns about “potential hush money.”

Hussain, whose sentencing date was postponed, was required to disclose his stake, with Lynch, in Invoke and startup company Darktrace Ltd.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered Hussain to turn over to prosecutors detailed records of the investments, including transactions involving Lynch, by Nov. 22. Hussain’s lawyer, John Keker, is also fighting the order, calling it unreasonable. Andrew Kim, a lawyer for Invoke Capital, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government argues that Lynch’s reassembling of his Autonomy inner circle at the new firm, including Hussain, isn’t illegal by itself but may have created financial relationships that prevented some of those people from coming forward as witnesses.

“Where the same circle of participants who defrauded Autonomy’s investors, HP, and HP’s investors are all reliant on the wealthiest of the co-conspirators, the government has legitimate concerns about hush money,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

Thursday’s indictment, filed in San Francisco federal court, also names 46-year-old Stephen Keith Chamberlain, who was Autonomy’s vice president for finance, as a defendant. Lynch and Hussain also face a $5.1 billion civil case filed by Hewlett-Packard in London.

The case is U.S. v. Lynch, 18-cr-00577, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco). The other case is U.S. v. Hussain, 16-cr-00462, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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