Former CEO of Autonomy charged in United States in relation to HP deal

Lynch and HP have been involved in legal disputes before

British tech executive and investor Mike Lynch is facing criminal charges in the US over his role in Hewlett-Packard's disastrous $11 billion acquisition of United Kingdom software firm Autonomy in 2011.

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.

Software giant Autonomy was seen as a runaway British success story at the time of its $10.3bn (£8bn) sale to HP.

On Thursday, the US Department of Justice filed 14 charges of fraud against Lynch in a San Francisco court, along with Autonomy's former vice president for finance Stephen Chamberlain.

The statement also claims Lynch is being made a scapegoat for HP's failures, framing the allegations as a business dispute over the application of United Kingdom accounting standards. The charge sheet also says they "intimidated, pressured and paid off persons who raised complaints about or openly criticised Autonomy's financial practices and performance".

In short, Lynch and Chamberlain are accused of inflating Autonomy's sales numbers to hit quarterly targets so as to pocket fat performance-linked bonuses, and masquerading the business as a lucrative operation, the kind a large U.S. corporation might want to buy.

In his downtime, Mr Lynch is said to enjoy caring for rare breeds which include red poll cattle which he keeps at his Suffolk home. A Serious Fraud Office investigation in the United Kingdom was closed in 2015 without charge, but since then we've seen suit and countersuit leading up to this moment.

The latest criminal allegations note that Lynch was responsible, as CEO, for certifying Autonomy's accounts, and for the accuracy of statements made to shareholders and others about the company's "products, revenue and expenses, and its potential for growth".

He had pleaded not guilty and his attorney said he planned an appeal.

Autonomy specialised in analysis of large scale unstructured "big data", becoming the UK's largest and most successful software business by 2010. "He has done nothing wrong and will vigorously defend the charges against him", it said.

"These stale allegations are meritless and we reject them emphatically", they said, adding that "This case is unsupportable".

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